Thursday 8 July 2021 3:37 pm

Spectators banned from Tokyo 2020 Olympics as Japan announces tougher measures to halt rise of Covid cases

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which start later this month, will take place without any spectators, officials have confirmed.

Tokyo is to be placed back into a state of emergency from Monday – 11 days before the delayed Games are due to begin – until 22 August.

“I am sorry to those who purchased tickets and everyone in local areas,” said Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto.

“It is regrettable that we are delivering the Games in a very limited format, facing the spread of coronavirus infections.”

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics were due to be held last year but delayed because of the pandemic.

They are due to begin on 23 July and 24 August respectively, despite widespread unease among the Japanese public.

This is the fourth time that Tokyo has been placed in a state of emergency and comes as new cases of Covid-19 in the Japanese capital approach 1,000 a day.

“The upward trend of the number of new infection cases has become evident in the Tokyo metropolitan area and other major urban areas,” said the government’s minister in charge of Covid-19 measures, Yasutoshi Nishimura.

Under the emergency measures, restaurants and bars must stop serving alcohol and close by 8pm.

Athletes competing at Tokyo 2020 are already subject to strict rules preventing them from socialising and venturing beyond their accommodation, training venues and places of competition.

The small number of media travelling to Japan to cover the Games have also been warned that they must obey similar restrictions or risk having their accreditations removed.

Japan’s prime minister Yoshihide Suga is expected to address the situation later on Thursday.