Stands Will Be Empty for Tokyo Paralympics

Rising coronavirus infections cause Japan to lengthen its state of emergency
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2021 5:40 PM CDT
Stands Will Be Empty for Tokyo Paralympics
Tamayo Marukawa, minister for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, speaks Monday during a meeting in Tokyo, where officials announced there will be no fans in the stands for the Paralympics.   (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)

As they did with the just-completed 2020 Summer Olympics, fans will have to sit out the Paralympic Games, organizers announced Monday in Tokyo. The coronavirus situation is worsening in Japan, where the lambda variant has arrived and the government has extended its state of emergency until Sept. 12; the Games end Sept. 5. The Paralympics are scheduled to begin Aug. 24, the BBC reports. "We very much regret that this situation has impacted the Paralympic Games," the organizers said in a statement. The organizers issued an apology to people who already bought tickets to the events. The prohibition covers events in Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, and Shizuoka—all areas with high infection rates. Fans also are asked to not turn out for road events.

During the Summer Games, fans were nevertheless allowed to watch certain competitions at venues outside Tokyo, with some allowed to operate at half capacity. That won't be the case for the Paralympics, per the AP, though schoolchildren might be allowed to attend certain events. The president of the Tokyo Medical Association said the COVID-19 situation is more serious now than it was during the Summer Games. Going ahead with the Games is "a political decision, but the judgment by the medical side is that it will be difficult," he said. Less than 40% of Japan's population has been vaccinated against the coronavirus. "We hope that you understand that these measures are unavoidable and being implemented in order to prevent the spread of infection," organizers said. "Everyone is encouraged to watch the Games at home." (More Paralympics stories.)

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