TOKYO (KXAN) — Olympic organizers announced Thursday that fans will not be allowed at any of the Olympic events due to rising concerns about the spread of COVID-19 in Japan.
This latest development came after Japan stated it will place Tokyo under a state of emergency that would last through the Olympics, fearing an ongoing COVID-19 surge will increase during the Games.
Kyodo News reported the ban on all spectators came after a meeting Thursday with International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach and other representatives related to the Games.
Previously, Olympic organizers said the Games would not allow any foreign spectators, so the decision Thursday ensures there will be no fans at all to cheer on the athletes at the various venues throughout the country’s capital.
Tokyo reported 920 new cases on Wednesday, up from 714 last week and its highest since 1,010 on May 13. The figure is in line with experts’ earlier estimate that daily cases in Tokyo could hit 1,000 before the Games and could spike into thousands in August.
The upcoming emergency will be the fourth for Tokyo since the pandemic began and is a last-minute change of plan made late Wednesday after a meeting with experts who warned strongly against the government’s soft approach.
A main focus of the emergency is a request for bars, restaurants, and karaoke parlors serving alcohol to close. A ban on serving alcohol is a key step to tone down Olympic-related festivities and keep people from drinking and partying, officials say. Tokyo residents are expected to face stay-home requests and watch the Games on TV from home.