Japan Extends Covid-19 State Of Emergency Ahead Of Tokyo Olympics

Japan extended the existing state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas till June 20 as the Covid-19 pandemic shows no signs of curbing less than two months before the Summer Olympics 2021 open, a cabinet minister said on May 20. 

The state of emergency in the capital and eight other states were scheduled to end on May 31. However, strains on the medical system remain severe.

In recent days, Japan has recorded a critical number of Covid-19 patients even though new infections have slowed.

In a meeting with experts, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who leads Japan’s coronavirus countermeasures, said, “The flow of people has started to creep up in Osaka and Tokyo, and there are concerns that infections will increase.”

As a result, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga officially announced to extend the state of emergency.

Concerns about variants of coronavirus and a slow-paced vaccination drive have escalated the demands to call off the Olympic Games, due to start on July 23. Doctors, some high-profile business executives, and tens of thousands of citizens join with demand. 

Japan authorities, Olympics organisers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stated that the Games would go ahead under stern virus-prevention measures. 

During a news conference, Seiko Hashimoto, Tokyo Organising Committee President, said she received pledges from India, which is now tackling a deadly second wave of Covid-19, and five other countries to inoculate their Olympic athletes as a measure against a new variant emerged in India.

“80% of the 10,500 delegates in Japan expectedly would be vaccinated and on May 27 urged Olympians to get their jabs if they could,” said Thomas Bach, IOC President. “Athletes must also be tested before and after their arrival.”

Japan has witnessed around 7,27,000 coronavirus cases and 12,597 fatalities so far. As per Reuters’ data, nearly 6% of its population has taken vaccine, which is the lowest among the world’s larger and rich countries.

International predictors will not be allowed for the Tokyo Olympics 2021 but about 90,000 people, including athletes and their delegations, will attend. No decision on domestic fans has been made yet, clarified Tokyo 2020’s Hashimoto. 

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