Tokyo may extend coronavirus curbs into Olympics period

Tokyo and other areas are currently under a quasi state of emergency set to be lifted on July 12. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan is considering an extension of its coronavirus prevention measures in Tokyo and other areas by two weeks to a month, Japanese media said, with less than a month to go before the Tokyo Summer Olympics are set to open.

The Japanese capital and other areas are currently under a quasi state of emergency set to be lifted on July 12, but a recent uptick in coronavirus cases has officials concerned and could affect the number of spectators allowed into Olympic venues.

According to the Mainichi Shimbun daily, the government is considering extending the measures by two to four weeks, a period that would overlap with the Olympics, already delayed a year, which start on July 23.

A government meeting on coronavirus measures is set to be held later on Wednesday (June 30) to discuss ways of dealing with signs of an impending surge in coronavirus numbers. There is also concern about the spread of more highly transmissible variants.

"Any decisions regarding quasi-emergency measures will be taken based on policies we have in place," Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a news conference.

Under the current state of emergency, spectators at events are capped at 5,000. Organisers have ruled that spectators will be allowed up to 50 per cent of the venue capacity or a maximum of 10,000, although foreign spectators have been banned.

Meanwhile, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, who had been in hospital due to fatigue, was released early on Wednesday. Media reports said she would be working from home for an indefinite period.

Tokyo on Tuesday decided to move the first half of the 15-day Olympic torch relay scheduled to take place in the capital off public roads.

Officials have pledged to hold a "safe and secure" Olympic Games but face continuing resistance from a substantial part of the public, with worries fanned after two members of the Ugandan delegation tested positive after arriving in Japan.

Public broadcaster NHK said the government was drawing up measures for all foreign athletes in regional training camps ahead of the Olympics to halt training and quarantine in their rooms if one of their group tests positive.

This measure will continue until all have had a negative virus test, NHK added, without identifying its sources.

Asked about stronger screening guidelines, Tokyo 2020 organisers said in an email those testing positive at the airport would be quarantined and authorities in host areas would decide how to categorise "close contacts".

"We are paying close attention to last week's case involving the Uganda team," they added, saying that all relevant information gathered about it would be weighed in running the Games.

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