For the fourth time since the start of the pandemic, Tokyo has declared a state of emergency as coronavirus Delta variant cases spike just over two weeks from the Olympic opening ceremony.
Tokyo reported 920 new infections in a day, the highest number since May, and the city has increasingly implemented unsuccessful measures to try to keep the virus at bay as the Olympics have approached. Now, residents are nervous as roughly 11,000 Olympians, 4,000 Paralympians, and tens of thousands of support staff are starting to arrive from all over the world.
Because of the state of emergency declaration, most Olympic venues will ban spectators. The decision is a reversal from last month, when Olympic officials announced that spectators would be allowed, but would be capped at 10,000 people or 50% of capacity per venue. As of right now, venues outside of the city of Tokyo can still allow spectators, so mountain and road biking events are expected to allow fans to some extent.
With only 15% of Japan's population fully vaccinated, many are concerned that the Olympics will become a super-spreader event. Just a few days ago, a Serbian rower became the third Olympian so far to test positive for COVID upon arrival to Tokyo. Two Olympic Village workers also tested positive for the virus earlier this week.
"It will be an unusual way of staging the event amid a state of emergency," Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said, according to the Guardian
. "But I want to show from Tokyo that the human race can overcome great difficulty through hard work and wisdom."
We will keep you updated on how COVID will affect the Games as more information becomes available.