No spectators will be allowed at the Olympic Games after Japan declared a state of emergency on Thursday.
The state of emergency, related to the COVID-19 pandemic, will run throughout the Games, which are set to begin with the opening ceremony July 23 and conclude Aug. 8.
With the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 becoming the dominant strain throughout the world, Japan reported 2,180 new cases on Wednesday; 920 of those were in Tokyo, the host city for the Olympics. There was increasing concern that the Games could cause a surge of infection in the region. Amid a slow vaccine rollout, only about a quarter of the population has received at least one shot.
The spectator ban was announced Thursday by Olympics minister Tamayo Marukawa following discussions with government officials and event organizers. Overseas spectators were already banned from attending, but late last month organizers planned to allow venue capacity up to 50%.
The men’s Olympic tournament will be held July 29-Aug. 1 at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama. The women’s event will be staged the following week.