Tokyo organizers lean to ban spectators from night-time events – newspaper
TOKYO, July 2 (Reuters) – Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics are leaning to ban spectators from nightly events and large-scale venues, Japanese newspaper Yomiuri reported on Friday, amid continuing concerns over the spread of COVID-19 .
Polls show a majority of Japanese continue to oppose hosting the Olympics, given warnings from health experts it could spark another wave of infections even as new, more potent variants of the virus emerge. The Games are scheduled to start on July 23, after a year of delay due to the pandemic.
The governors of Chiba and Saitama prefectures, near Tokyo, have already urged organizers to ban spectators from nighttime events in their localities.
Their request is under discussion and a final decision will be made in five-party talks that will include the head of the International Olympic Committee, the governor of Tokyo and the head of Tokyo 2020, Olympics Minister Tamayo Marukawa told reporters. .
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Thursday that the government would make a decision next week regarding spectators and whether to lift the state of “near emergency” in Tokyo and other parts of the country. Read more
Foreign spectators have already been banned.
No spectator would be the “least risky” option for the Games, medical experts said last month.
The governor of Hokkaido, in northern Japan, has asked organizers to develop safety protocols based on the “principle” that people refrain from coming to watch the Olympic Games marathon along its routes in the city of Sapporo.
Government spokesman Katsunobu Kato, when asked about the remarks, said he would “follow the discussions” between the organizers and the local authorities.
Japan is likely to extend its COVID-19 containment measures in the greater Tokyo area by two weeks or more after the current July 11 deadline, government sources previously said.
Depending on the extent of the pressure on the medical system, the government could restore a more stringent comprehensive state of emergency for Tokyo, the sources said. Read more
Japan does not hesitate to extend the borders in Tokyo, but “it does not make sense if it does not have an impact,” Health Minister Norihisa Tamura told reporters.
Japan did not experience the explosive COVID-19 outbreak seen elsewhere, but the potential spread of more contagious variants and a slow initial vaccine rollout have fueled concerns.
While vaccinations have since resumed, concerns over vaccine supply have clouded the outlook.
The government has stopped accepting new applications from companies and universities who want to set up mass vaccination sites for employees and students, while some municipalities have canceled appointments due to shortages.
The country has recorded more than 796,800 cases of COVID-19 and more than 14,770 deaths. Only about 23% of the population has received at least one vaccine, although for people aged 65 and over the rate is over 60%.
Additional reporting by Linda Sieg; Writing by Linda Sieg; Editing by Himani Sarkar
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