Tokyo Olympics will take place without spectators

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The Tokyo Olympics will be held without spectators this year amid the uptick in coronavirus cases in the country, Japan’s Olympics Minister Tamayo Marukawa said Thursday.

The announcement came after a state of emergency was issued aimed at containing rising COVID-19 cases. Marukawa said Olympic organizers came to the agreement to hold the games without fans, according to Reuters. International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach met with organizers and officials in Japan.

“We have shown this responsibility since the day of the postponement,” Bach said via Kyodo News. “And we will also show it today, and we will support any measure which is necessary to have a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games for the Japanese people and all the participants.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the state of emergency will go in place Monday and last through Aug. 22. The Olympics begin July 23 and run through Aug. 8. The Paralympics will take place Aug. 24.

“Taking into consideration the impact of the delta strain, and in order to prevent the resurgence of infections from spreading across the country, we need to step up virus prevention measures,” Suga said.

Organizers previously allowed venues to be filled to 50% capacity but crowds not to exceed 10,000.

Athletes, media and sponsors were the only type of foreigners allowed at the games.

The main focus of the most recent state of emergency is a request for bars, restaurants and karaoke parlors serving alcohol to close. A ban on serving alcohol is a key step to tone down Olympic-related festivities and keep people from drinking and partying. Tokyo residents are expected to face stay-home requests and watch the games from home.

Tokyo reported 896 new coronavirus cases Thursday, up from 637 a week earlier.

About 11,000 Olympians and 4,400 Paralympians are set to enter Japan over the next few weeks with tens of thousands of officials, judges, administrators, sponsors and media members. The IOC said more than 80% of residents of the Olympic Village will be vaccinated.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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