TOKYO: The increase in the number of Covid-19 cases due to the Delta variant is worrying in Japan. The Japanese government confirmed Thursday, July 8th, its intention to establish a new state of health emergency for the duration of the Tokyo Olympics, which are due to open on July 23rd. The decision foreshadows Olympics with few or no spectators.
The planned measures, which would last until August 22nd, are much less stringent than lockdowns imposed elsewhere in the world, limiting the sale of alcohol in Japan and forcing bars and restaurants to close earlier. But restrictions apply to cultural and sporting events. A cap of 5,000 spectators or 50% of a venue’s capacity, whichever is less, will be put in place for the Games.
While the Japanese archipelago has been relatively spared so far by the Covid-19 pandemic, with around 14,900 officially recorded deaths since early 2020, its vaccination program has progressed very slowly. Just over 15% of the population has been fully vaccinated so far, and experts fear the Delta variant could cause a new wave that could overwhelm hospitals.