No spectators for Tokyo Olympics 2021 as Japan declares state of emergency
- The extent of the ban, which comes just two weeks before the pandemic-postponed Olympics open, will be announced later on Thursday by the International Olympic Committee and Japanese organizers.
With Covid-19 infections rising, the Japanese government has announced a state of emergency in the country to contain the spread. It has also been announced by the International Olympic Committee and Japanese organizers that fans will be barred from the Tokyo Olympics as the administration look to contain the virus.
The widely expected move was made following talks between the government, Tokyo organisers and Olympic and paralympic representatives.
It was "regrettable" that the Games were going to be held in a limited format, Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto told a briefing, adding her apologies to those who had bought tickets.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said it was essential to prevent Tokyo, where the highly infectious Delta COVID-19 variant was spreading, from becoming the source of another wave of infections.
The ban all but robs the Tokyo Games, which are scheduled to run from July 23 to August 8, of their last hope for pomp and public spectacle.
Once seen as a chance for Japan to stand large on the global stage after a devastating earthquake a decade ago, the showpiece event was delayed by the pandemic last year and has been hit by massive budget overruns.
Medical experts have said for weeks that having no spectators would be the least risky option, amid widespread public fears that an influx of thousands of athletes and officials will fuel a fresh wave of infections.
(with Reuters inputs)