Japan declares state of emergency, bans Olympic spectators

TOKYO, Japan (NBC) – With the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics just 15 days away, Japan declared a new state of emergency in the city amid a spike in coronavirus cases, and has banned fans, domestic and international, at all events.

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced the new restrictions to combat a recent spike in COVID cases. The government will ban all fans from Olympic competitions and showcase events including the opening ceremony plus the Olympic Torch Relay already being pulled off public streets in Tokyo.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Chief Executive Toshiro Muto said, “The COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet. We will do our best to ensure the safe and secure Tokyo 2020 games.”

Though the country has suffered fewer deaths per capita than other developed nations, Japan is taking no chances.

Recent polls have shown more than half the Japanese population wants the Olympics to be canceled or postponed. One reason for concern: Japan’s sluggish vaccine rollout. Just 15% of eligible Japanese are fully vaccinated. And now with the Delta variant spreading all over the world, Japan is enforcing strict rules we’ve seen firsthand.

All foreigners have to do a 14-day quarantine when they arrive in Tokyo, submit daily saliva tests, and submit to tracking on a health app. They also have a sign-up sheet because they are only allowed to go outside for 15 minutes.

At the heart of the state of emergency is crowd control. They’re asking restaurants, bars, and karaoke parlors not to serve alcohol. What they don’t want to happen is for crowds to get out of control, or having thousands of people traveling to Tokyo for the Olympics. They want to make sure those people don’t congest restaurants and bars and that potentially leading to an outbreak or a super spreader event.

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