World Japan faces longer state of emergency, casting doubt on Olympics
In Japan, where less than 1% of the population is fully vaccinated, protests to cancel or postpone Olympics intensify
The country is in the throes of a fast-spreading wave of COVID-19 infections. Many Japanese people feel this is no time to be hosting Olympic Games.The situation is so dire that a state of emergency in Tokyo has been extended until the end of May to combat the spread of the virus.
By Stanley White
TOKYO (Reuters) - The Japanese government is considering extending a coronavirus spurred state of emergency in Tokyo and other major urban areas, a move that could cast doubt on the planned Summer Olympics.
Officials were leaning toward an extension of the measures in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures beyond May 11 as the country battles a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Yomiuri Newspaper said on Wednesday.
Extending the measures, which were imposed on April 25, would likely fan persistent concerns about whether the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to begin on July 23, can be held as planned.
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The games have already been delayed once from last year due to the pandemic. The city of Sapporo, on the northern island of Hokkaido, hosted a half-marathon test event on Wednesday.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will meet with senior government ministers on Wednesday to discuss an extension, the Yomiuri reported without citing sources. The Yomiuri did not detail how long an extension might be, but the governor of Osaka Prefecture said an extension of three weeks to a month may be necessary, according to domestic media.
Calls by Reuters to Suga's office were not answered. Japan's government buildings and financial markets were closed on Wednesday for annual Golden Week holidays.
Under the state of emergency in Tokyo and other urban areas, the government required restaurants, bars, and karaoke parlours serving alcohol to close. Large department stores and cinemas were also shuttered, while spectators were banned from big sporting events.
It was uncertain whether the government will loosen any of the operating restrictions on the services sector, the Yomiuri said.
(Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Jane Wardell)
Serena Williams may not play in Tokyo Olympics if daughter can't join her in Japan .
If it comes down to it, Serena Williams’ daughter might be the key to whether she makes the trek to Tokyo for the Olympics this summer. Williams said Monday at the Italian Open that she, like many other athletes around the globe, is still undecided about participating in the rescheduled Games amid the COVID-19 pandemic. “I haven’t spent 24 hours without her, so that kind of answers the question itself,” Williams said, via The Washington Post. “We’re best friends.” Japan is in the midst of a new coronavirus surge, and a big chunk of the country is under a state of emergency through the end of the month.