Japan to extend virus emergency until month before Olympics – Times of India

Tokyo: Japan will extend a state of emergency in Tokyo and other regions on Friday, just one month before the Olympics, a move that may raise concerns about whether the Games can be held safely.
Tokyo and nine other parts of the country currently have emergency orders including early closure of most bars and restaurants and banning them from selling liquor.
The emergency was about to end in late May in most places, but the government now says it needs more time to control the fourth wave of infection.
“The overall level (of infection) remains very high,” said Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of the coronovirus response.
“Given this situation, we believe it is necessary to extend the state of emergency measures.”
On Friday, the government’s advisory panel approved the extension until 20 June, exactly one month before the epidemic-postponed Olympics on 23 July. A formal announcement is expected later.
The move comes with the Japanese public still strongly opposed to holding the 2020 Games this summer. In recent weeks, leading businessmen and even a newspaper sponsoring the Olympics have called for the event to be canceled.
But organizers and Japanese officials say the games will continue, citing extensive rulebooks aimed at keeping participants and the public safe.
On Thursday, Naoto Uyama, president of the minor Japan Doctors Union, warned that the Games could cause “Tokyo Olympic tensions” of coronaviruses and urged the cancellation to prevent a “disaster”.
Haruo Ozaki, the head of the large Tokyo Medical Association with more than 20,000 members, said the organizers would have to hold all spectators at the “minimum”.
Foreign fans have already been banned, and a decision on domestic audiences is expected at the end of next month.
Even under the current state of emergency, sports venues in Japan are allowed to seat 5,000 spectators or 50 percent of capacity, whichever is the lowest.
Officials are trying to get home the message that the games are going on and will be safe, recently declaring that most people in the Olympic village will be vaccinated.
Despite negative turnout and warnings against the Games, protests against the event attract only a few dozen people.
Australia’s softball team is expected to arrive next week to begin training in Japan, and Japanese athletes and Olympic staff will begin receiving vaccines from 1 June.
They will be queuing up in a slow vaccine rollout from Japan, currently only available to medical personnel and the elderly.
So far, only over six percent have received the first dose, with less than 2.5 percent fully immunized.
The slow pace has put pressure on Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who was appointed following the resignation of Shinzo Abe last year and faces elections in the autumn.
Japan has seen a relatively small virus outbreak, with around 12,500 deaths, enabling it to survive a harsh lockdown.
But Suga’s government has faced criticism for its pandemic response, and elections in particular show strong dissatisfaction with the vaccine rollout.


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