Tokyo: Japan said on Thursday it would lighten the curbs of the coronavirus in nine prefectures, including Tokyo, while taking some measures, including limiting the number of spectators at major events, amid fears that the Olympics next month can cause new infections. Media reported that the government was considering allowing up to 10,000 spectators in stadiums during the Games, in line with a plan approved by health experts for events on Wednesday. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has announced that the authorities will lift a state of emergency for Tokyo and eight other places, but will maintain ‘quasi-emergency’ measures in seven prefectures, including Tokyo. The state of emergency would expire on Sunday. Polls have shown that most Japanese remain wary of the possibility that the Games will spread coronavirus infections, especially as vaccination rates are still lower than in other rich countries. The seven prefectures would maintain the restrictions at the lower level until July 11 to prevent a recovery in coronavirus infections. But as the rate of decline in new infections in Tokyo has slowed in recent days, some experts have warned of a likely rebound, stressing the need to respond quickly through further fighting or even restoring a state of emergency in the capital, Minister of Economy Yasutoshi Nishimura. said earlier. The Games, which were postponed last year, are due to start on 23 July.
Asked whether the government would ask the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to cancel or postpone the Games even after they started if there was a threat to public health and lives, Nishimura said: “The IOC has the last say. ” ‘Our top priority is to protect life and health. We will do our best to control infection and secure hospital beds. ” After excluding foreign spectators, Japan will have to decide this month whether to allow domestic spectators at the Games, and this is likely to hold restrictions on the crowd. In the case of ‘quasi-emergency’, just as in an emergency, spectators at large gatherings are limited to 5,000 or half the capacity of the venue, whichever is smaller. Health experts, including Shigeru Omi, the best medical adviser, agreed on Wednesday that the number of spectators in places could be increased to 10,000, but only in areas where the “emergency” has been lifted. The Mainichi newspaper and other media reported that the government intends to allow spectators to enter the Games, with the cap of 10 000. A decision on the maximum number of spectators for the Olympic Games must be made by the end of the month is decided. Omi had earlier called on the government to better explain to the public how he expects to prevent infections during the presentation of the Games. Public broadcaster NHK said on Thursday that Omi and other health experts had put together proposals for the Games and stated that banning spectators would be the least risky approach. If spectators were to be allowed in, the experts suggested that there should be more restrictions than are applied to other large-scale events, reports NHK.