Tokyo placed under state of emergency for Olympic Games

IOC president Thomas Bach has arrived in Tokyo ahead of the Olympics. Photo: EPA

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has arrived in Japan for the Tokyo Games, which will take place under another state of emergency in the region.

Shortly after Bach’s arrival on Thursday, the Japanese government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced the measure in response to increasing numbers of coronavirus infections.

The fourth state of emergency for Tokyo in the wake of rising numbers of infections, which would span the July 23-August 8 period of the Olympics, will be in effect from Monday and replace a current and less strict quasi state of emergency.

The state of emergency is not a lockdown with hard curfews as in other countries and is to provisionally run until August 22, the government said.

While citizens are called upon to stay at home if possible, restaurants are open but not allowed to serve alcohol, offer karaoke and have to close earlier than normal in the evening.

The Japanese have been asked to rather enjoy the Olympics from home, and also to travel less during the upcoming summer holidays.

Tokyo authorities on Thursday reported 896 new cases, the 19th day in a row that the figure was higher than that from the previous week.

Many people in Japan fear that the Games delayed from last year owing to the pandemic could become a “super-spreader” event, and health experts have also raised concerns.

Another measure expected to counter the spread of the virus is holding at least a number of Olympic events behind closed doors, and reportedly the opening ceremony as well.

That was to be decided in a joint meeting of the IOC, the Japanese organising committee, and the Tokyo and Japanese governments.

Japan had initially planned to allow venues to be filled up to 50 per cent of capacity but with no more than 10,000 fans.

Mr Suga’s government, Bach’s IOC and local organisers have pledged safe Games amid a tight hygiene protocol for everyone involved but a majority of Japanese oppose the Olympics in the current conditions.

Bach arrived at Haneda airport to oversee the final countdown.

There are various meetings in the run-up, including the IOC Session where Brisbane is expected to be elected host of the 2032 Olympics.