July 25, 2021

The Tokyo Olympics, behind closed doors and under a state of emergency

The Olympic flame arrived in Tokyo on Friday July 9, almost on the sly in the new Olympic stadium, completely empty. It was symbolically given to Yuriko Koike, governor of the capital. Under a state of emergency and behind closed doors, the Tokyo Olympic Games, which are due to start on Friday, July 23, will be a first in history, with the virtual absence of spectators during these Olympics.

In Tokyo and in three departments (Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama), which form a ring around the capital and have 34 of the 42 Olympic venues in the country, spectators will not be admitted. But some sporting events should take place with an audience cut in half, in the departments of Fukushima, Miyagi and Shizuoka.

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The increase in the number of cases of contamination (nearly 900 counted in Tokyo on July 8) – 30% of which are due to the Delta virus, which is more transmissible – led the government to reinstate the state of emergency, Thursday 7 July, to cope with a fourth epidemic wave. Measures that were expected for a few days. The state of emergency, lifted on June 20, will be reinstated on July 12 and maintained in Tokyo until August 22. It will therefore be in effect throughout the Games.

“What does that mean? “

The closure of the event venues to the public was decided in agreement with the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, who arrived in the Japanese capital a few hours before the announcement of the decision and who must observe a three-day quarantine. . “We hope that all measures will be taken which will allow the Olympic and Paralympic Games to be safe, for the Japanese and the participants”, he said after an online meeting with the Prime Minister and Japanese officials at the Olympics. It’s a “Heartbreaking », Reacted Mme Yuriko Koike, Governor of Tokyo, by inviting her fellow citizens to follow the trials from home. Tickets already purchased will be refunded. “Games without spectators, what does that mean? They simply had to be canceled! “, a passer-by showing his ticket, questioned by the national television channel NHK, loses his temper.

These decisions deal a new blow to the Games maintained at all costs

In the rare sites where they will be admitted, the number of spectators may not exceed half of their capacity. The organizers of the Olympics have also asked the public to refrain from attending the marathon events, which will take place in Sapporo. The opening ceremony, held in the presence of the emperor, will also take place in the absence of spectators. According to the daily Asahi Shimbun, the organizers would also seek to limit the number of official personalities invited to the event.

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