The 2021 Tokyo Olympics will go on, but now without spectators, Japan Olympics minister Tamayo Marukawa said Thursday.
Japan’s coronavirus numbers have reportedly increased in recent weeks, with the nation’s officials citing a variant of the pandemic. A state of emergency in Tokyo will run throughout the Olympics in an effort to combat the virus.
Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters the state of emergency would run from July 12 until at least August 22. The Olympics are scheduled to begin July 23. Organizers have “no choice but to hold the Games in a limited way,” Japanese Olympic Committee member Seiko Hashimoto said.
“The number of severe cases and bed occupancy rate continues to be on the low level, but considering the impact of variants, we need to enhance countermeasures so that the infection will not spread nationwide,” Suga said.
The Olympics are expected to last 16 days, ending on August 18.
Per multiple reports, Japan is behind Western countries in rolling out its vaccination, with only 15% of its population being fully vaccinated, compared to 47% in the United States.