The Tokyo Olympics will be held without spectators, the organizers said, after Japan declared a new state of emergency that will continue through the end of the Games due to a rise in Covid-19 infections.
Japan and some other countries in Asia that have been slow to roll out vaccinations are experiencing new waves of infection, exacerbated by the more contagious Delta variant. On Thursday, Tokyo reported 896 new cases, up 27% from a week earlier.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Tokyo would be put under a state of emergency starting Monday and lasting until Aug. 22, the fourth emergency period since the start of the pandemic.
The order requires restaurants to close early and not serve alcohol. People will also be asked to avoid unnecessary trips, but as in previous cases, public transport will keep operating and most stores will remain open.
The state of emergency is likely to force Olympics organizers to scrap plans for limited attendance at the Games, at least for the main events held in Tokyo. Representatives of Tokyo organizers, the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government are set to discuss spectator levels later Thursday.
More than 3.5 million tickets have been purchased by people in Japan for the Olympics, which open on July 23 and end on Aug. 8.