Before the Tokyo Olympics, the state of emergency in Tokyo and other regions had been extended for 20 days.
Japan has extended the coronavirus emergency in Tokyo and other regions by 20 days, and as it is preparing to host the Olympic Games in just 50 days, the infection rate has not slowed down.
In announcing the decision on Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Yoshihide said that the number of cases is still high and that the medical system in Osaka, the worst-hit city in western Japan, is still heavily burdened.
He said: “I know that many people are concerned about hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games.” “I take them seriously, and I will continue to prepare for safe and reliable games.”
He said that the next three weeks are “an extremely important moment in the process of achieving results,” which is a two-pronged struggle to control infection while expanding vaccination.
The current state of emergency in the capital and eight other metropolitan areas will end next Monday, but hospitals in certain areas are still full of COVID-19 patients, with severe cases hitting new highs recently.
The 20-day extension covers 9 regions from Hokkaido in the north to Fukuoka in the south. As of October 20, the tenth district of the island prefecture in southern Okinawa was in a state of emergency.
After banning overseas spectators from entering the Olympics a few months ago, Olympic organizers must decide at that time whether to allow any fans to participate. According to media reports, it is expected that Japanese athletes’ priority vaccination plan will begin around that time.
Delayed for a year due to the pandemic, the Olympics are scheduled to start on July 23. People’s concerns about new variants and Japan’s slow vaccination move triggered calls from the public, medical experts and even sponsors to cancel the Olympics.
On Thursday, Naoto Ueyama, chairman of the Underage Japanese Doctors’ League, warned that the Olympics might produce a “Tokyo Olympic strain” of the coronavirus and urged the cancellation of the Olympics to prevent a “catastrophe.”
Haruo Ozaki, the head of the larger Tokyo Medical Association with more than 20,000 members, said that organizers must ban all spectators from participating in the competition “at a minimum.”
Even in the current state of emergency, Japanese stadiums can accommodate 5,000 spectators or 50% of the seats, whichever is smaller.
Suga’s public approval rate has dropped from about 70% when he took office in September to about 30%.
Experts warn that the variant is infecting more people, making them seriously ill, and flooding hospitals in some areas.
Due to bureaucracy, planning errors, and a shortage of medical staff, Japan’s vaccination efforts are lagging behind.
Only 2.3% of the population has been fully vaccinated, and the current phase for the elderly is not planned to be completed before the start of the Olympics.
Nevertheless, Suga and his government are still determined to host the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee also stated that even if the host country Tokyo is taking emergency measures, the Olympic Games will continue.
Officials have been working hard to convey the message that the Olympics will be safe. It was recently announced that the vast majority of the Olympic villages will be vaccinated.
Despite negative polls and warnings about the Olympics, protests against the games often attracted only a few dozen people.
The government has been trying to speed up the vaccination rate and plans to vaccinate up to 1 million people a day, but some experts say this is an overly optimistic goal.
Japan has reported about 739,000 coronavirus cases and more than 12,700 deaths.