Tokyo Olympics: Two months before Summer Games, Tokyo set to extend state of emergency to June 20

Tokyo Olympics: Two months before Summer Games, Tokyo set to extend state of emergency to June 20 even as new infection rate slows down
Tokyo Olympics: Two months before Summer Games, Tokyo set to extend state of emergency to June 20 even as new infection rate slows down

Tokyo Olympics: The cloud over Tokyo Olympics doesn’t seem to clear away as Japan is looking to extend Tokyo’s state of emergency until June 20 due to the COVID-19 spike, just two months before the Games. The emergency is set to expire on May 31 and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga could announce an extension on Friday.

While new COVID-19 infections have slowed down, the strain on the healthcare system in the Japanese capital remains severe. Of late, Tokyo and many other cities have seen a record number of patients in critical care, increasing pressure on the hospitals.

The government will consult its scientific panel on Friday before announcing a decision. “In Osaka and Tokyo, the flow of people is starting to creep up, and there are concerns that infections will rise,” Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, the country’s head of COVID-19 measures, said.

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Tokyo Olympics: With Tokyo Olympics less than two months away, the extended restrictions and state of emergency further put the Games in doubt. The Japanese government is under pressure from the public and various stakeholders to cancel or postpone the Summer Games even though it has vowed to put strict measures.

Even though the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japanese government remain defiant on hosting the Olympics as not holding it could lead to huge losses for both, Suga said the situation is highly unpredictable.

“Infections are declining in some areas including Tokyo and Osaka but on the whole, the situation is highly unpredictable,” PM Yoshihide Suga told Japanese media.

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Tokyo Olympics: The prolonged state of emergency, travel ban and fears of new novel Coronavirus variants have put the Games in doubt with doctors, businesses besides citizens calling for the Tokyo Olympics to be cancelled. The latest poll last week showed around 80% of Japanese citizens want the Tokyo games to be cancelled or postponed further.

The Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and other leaders in various prefectures have called for an extended emergency period that will help them put tougher restrictions beyond the current measures. It could see a ban on restaurants serving alcohol and asking them to close by 8 PM while also put a cap on attendance at sports venues.

The primary concern is the country’s slow vaccination drive that has seen less than 3% of its population fully vaccinated while only 6% receiving at least one shot. However, the good sign for the Games is that the fourth wave is flatlining and if the trend continues for another 15 days, it could raise hopes for the Games that will kick start on July 23.