Games

Japan will extend the health emergency until a month before the Games

Tokyo and nine other departments in the country are currently under a state of emergency, a measure that bans the sale of alcohol in bars and restaurants and forces them to close early.

The emergency would expire at the end of May in most areas, but the government said it needs more time to control the fourth wave of infections.

“The general level (of infections) continues to be very high,” Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of responding to the virus, warned on Friday.

He added that “given the situation, we believe it is necessary to extend the emergency measures” until June 20, a month before the postponed start of the Tokyo Games, on July 23.

Meanwhile, the Japanese population remains firmly opposed to the celebration of the Games, and in recent weeks business leaders and a newspaper that sponsors the fair asked to cancel the event.

However, Japanese organizers and officials say the Games will be held, citing rules intended to keep participants and local people safe.

This Thursday, two medical associations warned about the risk posed by the Games. Naoto Ueyama, president of a small medical union, urged the government to cancel them to avoid a “disaster.”

For his part, Haruo Ozaki, president of the Tokyo Medical Association, with more than 20,000 members, called for a minimum total ban on spectators at the Games.

Japan maintains the prohibition for the arrival of foreign spectators, and will later decide whether to allow the entry of local audiences.

Even under the current state of emergency, sports venues can accommodate up to 5,000 people or 50% of their capacity, whichever is less.

Despite overt opposition in polls, protests against the Tokyo Games typically attract only a few dozen people.

Organizers and Olympic leaders have insisted that the Games will be held and will be safe, and announced that the vast majority of those in the Olympic Village will be vaccinated.

The Australian softball team is scheduled to arrive in Japan next week for training, and Japanese athletes and Olympic staff who will work closely with the athletes will begin to be vaccinated on June 1.

The Japanese vaccination program has progressed slowly, with only 6% of the population receiving the first dose, while less than 2.5% are fully vaccinated.

The virus outbreak in Japan has been small compared to other countries, with 12,500 deaths despite avoiding drastic closures.

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