The Tokyo Paralympics, scheduled to be held from August 24 to September 5, will be staged without spectators, confirmed the organisers on Monday. The decision, similar to how it was during the Tokyo Olympics, was warranted by the alarming rise in coronavirus infections in the host city and many other parts of Japan.
There were a few exceptions made during the Olympics with some fans allowed in outlying areas away from Tokyo. This time, all fans will be barred except the possibility of some children attending a few unspecified events.
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Organizers have also asked the public not to come out to view road events.
The decision was made after a meeting between International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons, organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa.
The Paralympics, with about 4,400 athletes set for participation, is smaller in scale compared to the Olympics which featured 11,000 athletes. But since the Games is being staged when new infection rates have risen in Tokyo, create a difficult scenario for the organisers setting up a safe bubble for the athletes.
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Parsons, speaking at a news conference, said there was no room for complacency.
“In light of the current case numbers in Tokyo and wider Japan, everyone attending these games must be vigilant,” Parsons was quoted by the Associated Press in its report.
New infections in Tokyo tripled during the 17 days of the Olympics. The surge, according to experts, was not directly linked to the Games. However, it had indirect repecussios as most probably the rise happened because the public was lulled into a false sense of security that staging the Games offered.
With the situation growing worse, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Monday said a state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas will be extended until September 12. The state of emergency has been in force since July 12.
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“The surge in infections is reaching alarming record highs,” Suga said after meeting with other government ministers.
Last Friday, Tokyo logged 5,773 cases, a new high. On Sunday, the Japanese capital reported 4,295 cases. The rise in infections has severely strained the medical system. Experts say the situation is getting out of control and some call it “a disaster.”
(With additions from PTI/AP)
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