Tokyo Olympics organisers insist ‘safe and secure’ Games will take place this summer despite a state of emergency being declared in the host city
- Tokyo has been put in a month-long state of emergency after a Covid-19 spike
- The city recorded a daily record of 2,447 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday
- Deaths from the virus have also doubled over the past two months to 3,700
Tokyo Olympics organisers insist a ‘safe and secure’ Games will take place this summer — despite a state of emergency being declared in the host city.
The Japanese government on Thursday placed Tokyo under its most severe restrictions for the first time since last April after reporting a new daily record of 2,447 coronavirus cases, shattering Wednesday’s previous high of 1,591.
Deaths nationwide have also passed 3,700 — doubling in less than two months.
Tokyo has been put in a Covid-19 state of emergency less than 200 days before the Olympics
Under the new rules, residents in Tokyo and three surrounding areas have been urged to avoid non-essential outings, restaurants and bars have been asked to close at 8pm and crowds at sports and other events have been limited to 5,000 people. Shops and schools remain open.
The restrictions will stay in place until at least February 7 and will not be lifted in Tokyo until cases decline to 500 a day.
The announcement raises yet more concern about the prospect of the rescheduled Olympics, which are taking place in under 200 days.
But a Tokyo 2020 spokesperson said: ‘This declaration of emergency offers an opportunity for Tokyo 2020 to plan for a safe and secure Games this summer. We will proceed with the necessary preparations accordingly.’
An International Olympic Committee spokesperson added: ‘The IOC has full confidence in the Japanese authorities and the measures they are taking.
‘Together with our Japanese partners, we continue to be fully concentrated and committed to the safe and successful delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 this summer.’
Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga announced the call after 2,447 new Covid-19 cases on Thursday
Upcoming exhibitions of the Olympics torch around Tokyo were postponed on Thursday.
There are also major doubts about the safety of the torch relay, which is due to begin on March 25 and involve 10,000 runners across four months.
But the IOC are banking on a large number of athletes being vaccinated against Covid-19 to help the Games go ahead.
A spokesperson added: ‘The IOC has sent a clear message from the beginning that there will be no obligation to get vaccinated.
‘At the same time, the IOC and the International Paralympic Committee are fully aligned in their commitment to have as many foreign participants as possible vaccinated before the Games.’