The Tokyo Olympics will go ahead without spectators, organizers have confirmed today (Thursday), as the spread of COVID-19 has forced Japan to declare a state of emergency in Tokyo where the games are being hosted.
Although widely expected, the move marked a sharp turnabout from just weeks earlier, when organizers said they aimed to hold the global sporting showpiece with limited spectators. “It is regrettable that we are delivering the Games in a very limited format, facing the spread of coronavirus infections,” Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto said following talks between government officials, Tokyo organizers and Olympic and Paralympic representatives.” “I am sorry to those who purchased tickets and everyone in local areas.”
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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. Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa said organizers had agreed to hold the Games without spectators in Tokyo, and to decide according to the local situation for venues outside of the capital. 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.