Paralympics to be staged without spectators
No spectators will be permitted to attend the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, organisers have confirmed.
Having previously stated that no overseas spectators would be permitted at the Games, scheduled to be held from August 24 to September 5, organisers have now said all fans will barred, just as they were from the recently-completed Tokyo Olympics, owing to continuing uncertainty amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
While there were a few exceptions made during the Olympics, with some fans allowed in outlying areas away from Tokyo, it will not be the case with the Paralympics, with organisers pleading with the Japanese public not to come out to view events at roadside.
The decision was announced after a meeting with International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons, organising committee president Seiko Hashimoto, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike and Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa.
While the 4,400 athletes, including Bermuda’s wheelchair sprinter Jessica Lewis, expected to compete is far fewer than the 11,000 at the Olympics, the Paralympics approach as new infections have accelerated in Tokyo, which may expose an athlete population that is more vulnerable to the virus.
Parsons, speaking at a news conference, said 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," he said.
New infections in Tokyo tripled during the 17 days of the Olympics, although medical experts said the surge was not directly linked to the Tokyo Games. Instead, they suggested an indirect effect as the public were distracted and lulled into a false sense of security that staging the Games offered.
With the Covid-19 situation growing worse, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga confirmed that the state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas, which has been in effect sicne July 12, will be extended to September 12.
"The surge in infections is reaching alarming record highs," said Suga, after meeting with other government ministers.
On Sunday, the Japanese capital reported 4,295 cases. The rise in infections has severely strained the medical system, with the nation attributing 15,400 deaths to Covid-19 from the total of 282,000 confirmed cases.