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Tokyo is placed under 'emergency orders' with just three months to go until the start of the Olympics as Japan aims to halt surging Covid cases... but organisers remain adamant they're NOT considering cancelling Games

 Only three months before the postponed Olympics are set to open, Tokyo and Japan's second largest metropolitan area of Osaka have been placed under emergency orders aimed at stemming surging cases of the coronavirus.

The measures, which take place during Japan's 'golden week' holiday period, are meant to limit travel and keep people out of public places. They are to end on May 11, just ahead of a widely reported visit to Hiroshima by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

Bach said this week that the visit, reported for May 17-18, is still in the 'planning phase.' But Bach's presence was immediately criticised by opposition lawmakers who say the Olympics are being prioritised ahead of public safety.

Tokyo, Japan, has been placed under emergency orders to try to stem surging Covid cases

The measures are meant to limit travel and keep people out of public places amid coronavirus

The measures are meant to limit travel and keep people out of public places amid coronavirus

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced a state of emergency for Tokyo on Friday

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced a state of emergency for Tokyo on Friday

'Japan should decide its own public health policies. There is no reason we should be told by Mr Bach what to do,' said Yuichiro Tamaki, the head of the Democratic Party for the People.


Bach said the duration of the state of emergency had nothing to do with his planned visit to the city, where he would greet the Olympic torch relay. Hiroshima was destroyed in 1945 by the American detonation of an atomic bomb over the city, and is a favorite backdrop for visiting politicians and dignitaries.

'This (state of emergency) is absolutely in line with the overall policy of the government,' Bach said. 'But it is not related to the Olympic Games. It is related to the golden week.'



Japan's third state of emergency is to include shutdown orders for bars, department stores, malls, theme parks, as well as theaters and museums. Even restaurants that do not serve alcohol are being asked to close early, as well as public transportation. Schools will stay open, but universities are asked to return to online classes.

'I hope that the situation is going be better as soon as possible,' Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the organising committee, said Friday in a online briefing.

Japan has attributed about 10,000 deaths to Covid-19, good by global standards but poor by standards in Asia. It has vaccinated less than 1 per cent of the population and has not enforced lockdowns with people becoming impatient and less cooperative as cases have again accelerated.

Seiko Hashimoto, president of Tokyo 2020, said: 'We are not thinking about cancellation'

Seiko Hashimoto, president of Tokyo 2020, said: 'We are not thinking about cancellation'

Hashimoto said several test events would continue during the emergency period, but without fans. The Olympics open on July 23.

She was asked again if there were any plans to cancel the Olympics. The question had disappeared at briefings, but has surfaced again in the last several weeks.

'As the organising committee, we are not thinking about cancellation,' Hashimoto said.

Tokyo cabinet secretary Toshihiro Nikai admitted cancelling the Olympics, postponed from last year, was still an option earlier this month. 

People wearing protective face masks in Tokyo as Japan entered its third state of emergency

People wearing protective face masks in Tokyo as Japan entered its third state of emergency

While Japan's vaccine chief Taro Kono insisted it's 'likely' even home fans will be locked out of all venues for the Games. 

Supporters from aboard have already been prohibited from attending. A decision on how many fans can attend is set to be made this month. 

The IOC gets almost 75 per cent of its income from selling television rights and has seen that cash flow stalled by the postponement. It needs the games to happen, which will be followed in six months by the boycott-threatened Beijing Winter Olympics.

Tokyo is officially spending $15.4 billion to organise the Olympics, with several government audits suggesting the number is much larger.

The IOC and organisers are hoping to muffle more cancellation questions next week by rolling out the second edition of the 'Playbooks,' guides that are to explain how the Olympics can be held safely in a pandemic.

Olympics rings monument unveiled to mark 100 days to Tokyo 2020
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The first edition rolled out in February was vague. Next week promises to offer more details and is likely to include requirements that 15,400 Olympic and Paralympic athletes be tested almost daily while in Japan.

The IOC has said vaccinations are not required to participate in the Olympics, but it has encouraged all athletes to be vaccinated.

The Playbooks are not expected to offer a decision on venue capacities, nor if any fans will be allowed at all. Fans from abroad have already been banned.

Hashimoto, who participated in seven Olympics as an athlete and won a bronze medal in speedskating at the 1992 Albertville Games, has been open about her concerns. Between 70-80 per cent of the Japanese public polled say they games should not go on.

'I understand a lot of people are worried and also healthcare workers might be worried,' Hashimoto said. 'I think about the feelings of those people - every day I think about this.' 

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