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Spectators barred from Olympic events in Tokyo

The logo of Tokyo 2020 is displayed near Odaiba Seaside Park in Tokyo on July 7 2021 as reports said the Japanese government plans to impose a virus state of emergency in Tokyo during the Olympics Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI AFP Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGIAFP via Getty Images
The logo of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Organisers of the Tokyo Olympic Games announced on Thursday that no spectators will be allowed at any of the venues in Tokyo after the Japanese government declared a coronavirus state of emergency for Tokyo that will last through the end of the Games. 

According to Reuters, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the state of emergency would begin on Monday and last through August 22, before the start of the Paralympic Games.

"Taking into consideration the effect of coronavirus variants and the need to prevent infections from spreading to the rest of the nation again, we need to strengthen our countermeasures," Suga said. 

"Given the situation, we will issue a state of emergency for Tokyo."

The declaration means restaurants will be required to close early and cannot serve alcohol. Spectators from outside Japan were already banned from entering the country for the Games but organisers had hoped to fill the venues to a maximum 50 per cent capacity with Japanese spectators.

"It is regrettable that we are delivering the Games in a very limited format, facing the spread of coronavirus infections," Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto said according to Reuters.

The cycling competitions start with the men's and women's road races, which begin in the Tokyo suburb of Chōfu near Mount Fuji on July 24 and July 25. The mountain bike and track races will take place in Izu between August 26 and August 8. 

Attendance in the velodrome and MTB course will be decided by local officials.

The Olympic Games were postponed in March 2020 to this year at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Low vaccination rates and the emergence of new more infectious virus variants have led to larger waves of infections this year in Japan, with cases rising again in Tokyo to almost 1000 new cases per day in the capital.