Just as all fans were recently banned from the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games, organizers for the Paralympics this year announced that all spectators will be barred from the event due to the coronavirus pandemic.
During the Olympics some fans were able to spectate from outlying areas away from Tokyo, however, for the Paralympics organizers are planning on barring all fans with the exception of some children for a couple of events. Organizers are also telling the public not to come out to view any road events.
International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons, organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa all met last week to finalize these decisions before announcing it to the public.
The Paralympics begin on August 24th with about 4,400 athletes projected to participate. The Olympics this year had around 11,000 athletes, so the smaller scale should hopefully make it easier for organizers to manage health and safety procedures.
The announcement also comes as Japan, and Tokyo specifically, sees a rise in Covid-19 case numbers. Parsons spoke at a news conference where he proclaimed that there was no room for complacency in the wake of the Olympics.
“In light of the current case numbers in Tokyo and wider Japan, everyone attending these games must be vigilant.”
New Covid-19 infections tripled in Tokyo throughout the 17-day period that the Olympics were occuring, however, local health expert’s haven’t directly linked the rise in cases to the Games themselves. Experts instead believe that the Olympic games caused a lot of the public to get distracted and put them into a false sense of security.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced this week that a state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas will be extended until September 12th; the current state of emergency has been in place since July 12th and was initially meant to end later this month.
“The surge in infections is reaching alarming record highs,” Suga said.
This past Friday Tokyo logged around 5,800 new cases, and on Sunday it logged about 4,300 more. This rise in infections has put an extreme strain on Japan’s healthcare system and its workers.
Dr. Haruo Ozaki, president of the Tokyo Medical Association, said in an interview that “a significant number of people are still unvaccinated, and characterized the virus situation for the Paralympics as worse than it was during the Olympics.”
About 37% of the Japanese population is thought to be fully vaccinated at this point. Ozaki said the decision to not have fans at the Paralympics was a “minimum necessity, holding the event in general is a political decision, but the judgement by the medical side is that it will be difficult.
“The Olympics is a festival and might have affected the people in ways to loosen up and served as an indirect cause of rising cases.”
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.