The Olympics are scheduled to start in exactly three months after they were initially delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tokyo and Osaka, however, are preparing to go into another lockdown as coronavirus cases surge throughout Japan.
Japan declared a third state of emergency on Friday for significant portions of the country, including two of its largest cities, in an effort to curb infections. The “short and intensive” emergency orders will start on Sunday and last through May 11, coinciding with the “golden week” celebrations.
“I sincerely apologize for causing trouble for so many people again,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said, via The Associated Press.
Japan, per the report, has had nearly 550,000 total confirmed cases of the coronavirus and less than 10,000 deaths. Osaka recorded more than 1,100 new cases on Friday, and Tokyo had nearly 800. The country has struggled so far to administer a vaccine due, in part, to shortages of both vaccines and healthcare workers.
Will Japan be ready for the Olympics?
The Olympics are currently set to start on July 23, and the International Olympic Committee sounds determined to hold them.
IOC president Thomas Bach is set to visit the country just after the emergency order ends in a planning visit.
“The IOC has the authority to decide and the IOC has already decided to hold the Tokyo Olympics,” Suga said, via The Associated Press. “We aim to hold the games while taking strong measures to protect people’s lives from the further spread of infections.”
The IOC has already announced that fans from other countries won’t be allowed to attend the Games. Bach, while respecting the shutdown, believes it has nothing to do with the impending Olympics in the country — something many fear the healthcare system in Japan is not ready for.
“This [state of emergency] is absolutely in line with the overall policy of the government,” Bach said, via The Associated Press. “But it is not related to the Olympic Games. It is related to the golden week.”
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