Olympic Japan extends state of emergency for new coronavirus infection (COVID-19) before the Games

Tokyo — Japan extended emergencies in Tokyo and elsewhere for about three weeks until June 20, as the pandemic of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) showed no signs of mitigation on Friday.

The state of emergency in the capital and eight other prefectures was scheduled to be lifted on May 31, but the burden on the medical system remains serious.

In Japan, a record number of COVID-19 cases have been critically ill in recent days, despite a slowdown in the number of new cases.

At the beginning of the meeting with experts, Yasutoshi Nishimura, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, said, “In Osaka and Tokyo, the flow of people is beginning to settle down, and there are concerns about the spread of infection.”

Experts then approved the government’s proposal, and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga officially announced the extension.

Doctors, some prominent business executives and hundreds of thousands of citizens urgently call for the cancellation of the Olympic Games, which kicks off on July 23, due to concerns about new coronavirus variants and slow vaccination. The voice is rising.

Japanese officials, Olympic organizers, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have stated that the Olympics will be held under strict antivirus measures. IOC senior executive John Coates, who oversees the preparations, said last week that the tournament depends on whether the host city, Tokyo, is in a state of emergency at that time.

Pedestrians crossing the road wearing protective masks in the commercial and entertainment district of Umeda, Osaka, Japan, May 28, 2021. (Buddhika Weerasinghe / Getty Images)

Seiko Hashimoto, chairman of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, said at a press conference as a measure against new variants emerging in India from India (currently fighting the deadly second COVID-19 wave) and five other countries. He said he had received a pledge to vaccinate all Olympic representatives.

IOC President Thomas Bach said 80% of the planned 10,500 athletes in Japan would be vaccinated and asked Olympians on Thursday to be vaccinated if possible. , Representatives must be inspected before and after arrival.

To date, Japan has recorded approximately 727,000 coronavirus infections and 12,597 deaths. According to the report, about 6% of the population is vaccinated. Reuters dataIs the lowest of the largest and richest countries in the world.

Nishimura said the government’s current plans would be to vaccinate about 30% of the population by the end of July.

After meeting with Japanese officials on Thursday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen supported the hosting of the Olympics in Tokyo, enough for the European Union to inoculate about 40% of the population. He said he had approved the export of more than 100 million vaccines to Japan.

    Olympic torch
The first day of the Tokyo Olympic Torch Relay Hyogo held at Himeji Castle in Himeji City, Hyogo Prefecture, on May 23, 2021, the torch burns in a cauldron. (Buddhika Weerasinghe / Getty Images)

The tournament does not allow spectators from overseas, but about 90,000 people including athletes and their delegations will attend. No decision has yet been made on domestic fans, and Hashimoto of Tokyo 2020 said the situation regarding emergencies needs to be considered.

According to polls, the majority of Japanese want to cancel or postpone the Olympics that were postponed last year due to COVID-19.

This is a concern for Mr. Suga, who is on the verge of a general election and the ruling party’s leader election later this year, as support has stalled over the response to the new coronavirus.

However, some ruling party lawmakers said the cancellation would pose a political risk to the prime minister.

Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Hajime Funada told Reuters that “the disadvantages will outweigh the advantages.” “It will give the impression that Japan is in such a dire situation that it cannot host the Olympics.”

Japan’s latest emergency measures, unlike the more stringent measures in many countries, focus on requiring restaurants that primarily serve alcohol to close by 8 pm.

Nomura Research Institute executive economist Takahide Kiuchi said that if the state of emergency is extended, the economy is likely to shrink this quarter and fall into recession.

By Chang-Ran Kim and Linda Sieg