Japan's Olympics Minister Tamayo Marukawa said on Thursday that the Tokyo summer Olympics will be held without fans in the stands.
Tokyo is under a state-of-emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Reuters. Organizers made the decision to disallow spectators, but did not take the step of canceling the games outright.
The games have already been postponed for a year due to pandemic concerns in the summer of 2020, but they are slated to begin in two weeks. The state-of-emergency was declared in Tokyo by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, according to the AP.
That state-of-emergency will go into effect Monday and last through the duration of the games, as it runs through August 22. The games run from July 23 through August 8.
"Taking into consideration the impact of the delta strain, and in order to prevent the resurgence of infections from spreading across the country, we need to step up virus prevention measures," Suga said.
This leaves the Olympics largely as a broadcast event, and not as one with participation by anyone other than athletes. As it was, only Japanese spectators would have been allowed in anyway. Foreign visitors would not have been permitted.
Both indoor and outdoor events will be free of fans. Health Minister Norihisa Tamura would also like the games to be free from alcohol and drinking, so that people are encouraged to not gather together.
"How to stop people enjoying the Olympics from going out for drinks is a main issue," Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said. Japanese fans are encouraged to watch the games from their homes.
The Olympic torch relay has also been rerouted to islands, and runners will not be carrying it through the streets of Tokyo. A government health advisor, Dr. Shigeru Omi, said that "The infections are in their expansion phase and everyone in this country must firmly understand the seriousness of it."
Omi has not been a fan of a pandemic Olympic games, saying previously that it's "abnormal" to hold the Olympics during this time.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.
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