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Tokyo bans spectators amid COVID-19 emergency Updated: 2021-07-09 13:36:55 KST

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, already postponed once due to the pandemic, will start in a couple of week's time, but will do so without any fans, as a recent surge in virus cases forced Japan to declare another state of emergency in the capital, that will run throughout the duration of the Games.

"We wanted to have full stadiums so that people from the community could get involved in welcoming athletes so that we can have the full presentation of the power of sports. However, we are now faced with rising COVID-19 infections, so we unfortunately have no other choice but to hold the Games in a limited way."

The announcement was also made by Japan's Olympic Minister, who said the decision was reached after a meeting between the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, the organizing committee as well as the Tokyo and central Japanese government.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga stressed the importance of the decision, saying it was essential to prevent Tokyo being slammed by the highly contagious Delta variant.
People will also be asked not to gather for events on public roads, including the marathon and the triathlon.
However, officials say some venues outside the greater Tokyo metropolitan area will allow a small number of spectators.
With the declaration,.. U.S. First Lady Jill Biden's team is assessing whether it's still feasible for her to attend as part of the U.S. delegation.
The announcement comes as the East Wing said in June that they had been in discussions about having Mrs Biden attend the opening ceremony.
However, despite the resurgence of cases in the Japanese capital, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday, that the White House fully supports American athletes traveling to Tokyo to compete.
While Japan has not seen an explosive COVID-19 outbreak like many other countries, it's inching closer to one million cases and nearly 15-thousand deaths.
On top of that, a slow vaccine rollout means only a quarter of Japan's population has had at least one vaccine shot.
Lee Seung-jae, Arirang News.
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