3 weeks before games, Japan still unsure about spectators

Jun 30, 2021, 3:24 PM | Updated: Jul 1, 2021, 3:43 am

TOKYO (AP) — Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was still uncertain whether fans can be allowed at the Tokyo Olympics because of growing concern about rising COVID-19 cases on Thursday only three weeks before the games.

Cases in Tokyo have been steadily on the rise, triggering fears the games would accelerate the spread of the coronavirus. Experts warn the highly contagious delta strain could trigger rapid resurgence of the infections that may require another state of emergency even during the games starting on July 23.

“I have made clear that having no spectators is a possibility,” Suga said as he noted Tokyo’s rising caseloads. “We will take steps as we prioritize safety and security of the people.”

Tokyo on Wednesday confirmed 673 new cases, the 12th straight day of a week-on-week increase.

Dr. Mitsuo Kaku, a medical advisor for the Tokyo metropolitan government, told a weekly meeting on Thursday that Tokyo is turning into a “critical situation” as the upsurge is triggered by the delta variant.

A two-month-long state of emergency in Tokyo and other metro areas was downgraded by Suga on June 21 to less-stringent measures that focus on shortened hours for bars and restaurants until July 11.

He said he will decide what to do with the measures next week, a decision that will affect games spectators.

Organizers last week decided to allow up to 10,000 spectators or 50% of venue capacity if emergency measures are lifted before the games. Following criticisms and concerns raised by experts and the public, government officials later said they are open to having no fans if the infections worsen.

Experts say lifting the measures is unthinkable given the virus situation, and daily cases could exceed 1,000 before the Olympics and quickly multiply during the games if measures are delayed.

Suga said a decision on spectators will have to be made by a meeting with four other involved parties: The organizing committee, Tokyo, the International Olympic, and Paralympic Committees. A five-party meeting would be after his decision on any emergency measures next week, but he did not say when.

Other senior lawmakers of Suga’s ruling coalition also started to suggest an option of having no spectators. Natsuo Yamaguchi, head of Komeito, a smaller coalition partner of the governing Liberal Democratic Party, on Thursday called on the government “to consider a no-spectator option and promptly inform the public.”


More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/olympic-games and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

3 months ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

3 months ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

3 months ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

3 months ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

3 months ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

3 months ago

3 weeks before games, Japan still unsure about spectators