Japan faces longer state of emergency, casting doubt on Olympics

Japan is considering extending a coronavirus spurred state of emergency in the capital, Tokyo, and other major urban areas, sources said on Wednesday, a move that could cast doubt on the planned Summer Olympics.

Officials were leaning toward an extension of the measures in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures beyond May 11 as the country battles a surge in COVID-19 cases, three sources told Reuters.

The government may make an official decision as early as Friday, one of the sources told Reuters. The Yomiuri Newspaper earlier reported that an extension of the state of emergency was likely.

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

The games have already been delayed once from last year due to the pandemic. The city of Sapporo, on the northern island of Hokkaido, hosted a half-marathon test event on Wednesday.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will meet with senior government ministers on Wednesday to discuss an extension, the Yomiuri reported without citing sources. The Yomiuri did not detail how long an extension might be.

One proposal that has emerged is an extension until the end of the month, according to two of the sources. All three people requested anonymity because they were not authorised to speak with the media.

The governor of Osaka Prefecture said an extension of three weeks to a month may be necessary, according to domestic media.

Calls by Reuters to Suga’s office were not answered. Japan’s government buildings and financial markets were closed on Wednesday for annual Golden Week holidays.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach is expected to visit Japan later this month, but an extension of the state of emergency could prompt renewed calls from the public to cancel the games.

Under the state of emergency in Tokyo and other urban areas, the government required restaurants, bars, and karaoke parlours serving alcohol to close. Large department stores and cinemas were also shuttered, while spectators were banned from big sporting events.

It was uncertain whether the government will loosen any of the operating restrictions on the services sector, the Yomiuri said.

Similar articles

  • Japanese PM Suga survives vote of no confidence a month before Tokyo Olympics

    Japanese PM Suga survives vote of no confidence a month before Tokyo Olympics

    Japan's PM Yoshihide Suga survived a no-confidence vote by the opposition on Tuesday, news wires reported. The opposition move came just over a month before the Tokyo Olympics are due to start on 223 July. The capital is still under a state of emergency until Sunday. The opposition has criticized Suga for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his unwavering commitment to put on the Olympic Games.

    18
  • Taliban take over six more districts in Afghanistan

    Taliban take over six more districts in Afghanistan

    Afghan government forces abandoned or were pushed out of six more district centres across the country in the past 24 hours, as Taliban militants gain more ground, local officials confirmed on Monday cited by the dpa. The fallen district are in the provinces of Herat, Ghor, Sar-e Pul, Zabul, and Farah.

    29
  • China to counter foreign sanctions via new law

    China to counter foreign sanctions via new law

    China's Parliament on Thursday passed the anti-foreign sanctions law, providing a comprehensive legal cover for blocking foreign sanctions against Chinese officials and entities and protecting them against the long-arm jurisdiction, especially from the US, Reuters reports.

    41