© 2023 Hawaiʻi Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Asia Minute: Tokyo Making Pandemic Adjustments With Olympics on Horizon

AP Photo/Hiro Komae, File

In five weeks, the Summer Olympics are scheduled to get underway in Tokyo. The city is still under a state of emergency because of the pandemic, but that’s about to change as it moves from a “state of emergency” to a “quasi emergency.”

That means some modest adjustments after Sunday. Food establishments will be able to serve alcohol for the first time in months but only until 7 p.m. and they’ll still need to close by 8 p.m.

One of the next questions—what will the crowds look like for the Olympics?

There will be no foreign visitors and it’s widely expected the government will clear the way for up to 10,000 spectators to attend events, up from the current limit of 5,000.

They will have to wear masks and refrain from cheering.

Nationwide, new COVID-19 cases are down from their daily peak of more than 7,000 in early May. Now, the government reports around 1,500 a day.

The restrictions remain under debate.

Earlier this week, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases released a study showing the state of emergency has had “little statistical effect” in Tokyo.

Still, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is asking for “understanding and patience” for the restrictions, adding that holding the Olympics is not a matter of “personal pride or the economy.”

Surveys show the public remains skeptical about that.

So does the government’s main medical adviser—who says it’s “abnormal” to host the Olympics during a pandemic.

Right now, government figures show full vaccination has reached only about 5% of Japan’s population.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
Related Stories