| 2 December 2023, Saturday |

Japan faces longer state of emergency, casting doubt on Olympics

The Japanese government is looking into extending a COVID-19 spurred state of emergency in Tokyo and other major urban areas, a step that could cast doubt on the planned Summer Olympics.

The Yomiuri Newspaper said on Wednesday that officials were leaning toward an extension of the measures in Tokyo, Osaka, Hyogo and Kyoto prefectures beyond May 11 as the country battles a spike in coronavirus infections.

Extending the measures, which were enforced on April 25, would likely fan persistent concerns about whether the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to start on July 23, can be held as planned.

The Tokyo Olympics have already been delayed once from last year in light of the global pandemic. The city of Sapporo, on the northern island of Hokkaido, hosted a half-marathon test event on Wednesday.

Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga is due to meet with top government ministers on Wednesday to discuss an extension, the Yomiuri reported without citing sources. The newspaper did not elaborate on how long an extension could be, but the governor of Osaka Prefecture said an extension of 3 weeks to a month may be necessary, local media reported.

Under the state of emergency in Tokyo and other urban regions, the government required bars, restaurants and karaoke parlors serving alcohol to shut down. Large department stores and cinemas were also closed, while spectators were prohibited from big sporting events.

  • Reuters