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Japan Extends COVID State Of Emergency Less Than Two Months Before Tokyo Olympics 

Japan Extends COVID State Of Emergency Less Than Two Months Before Tokyo Olympics 

Japan has extended a state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas, as the COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of easing less than two months before the Olympics begin, Sky News reports.

The move to continue restrictions, due to end on 31 May, until 20 June comes as the country saw a record number of coronavirus patients in a critical condition in recent days – putting a strain on hospitals, even as the number of new cases has slowed.

The 20-day extension covers nine areas in Japan, ranging from Hokkaido in the north to Fukuoka in the south.

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A 10th area, the southern island prefecture of Okinawa, is already under emergency status until 20 June.

Olympic organisers must decide at around that time whether to allow any spectators to attend the Games, after overseas fans were banned months ago.

Concerns about COVID-19 variants and a slow vaccination rollout have prompted urgent calls from doctors, business leaders and many members of the pubic to cancel the Games, due to start on 23 July after being postponed for a year due to the pandemic.

A leading medic in Japan has even warned this summer’s event – still known as Tokyo 2020 – could lead to the emergence of an “Olympic” strain of the coronavirus.

Polls show a majority of Japanese want the tournament either cancelled or put off again. Only 2.3% of the population has been fully vaccinated, and the current phased targeting of older adults is not due to finish before the Olympics gets under way.

Japan has reported about 730,000 cases of infection and more than 12,700 deaths in total.

But Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his government are determined to host the Olympics.

Suga said: “I am aware that many people are voicing concern about holding the Olympics and Paralympics. I take them seriously, and I will proceed with preparations for a safe and secure Games.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has also said the event would go ahead even if the host city Tokyo was under emergency measures.

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