Tokyo under 'emergency orders' with Olympics 3 months away

The measures, which occur during Japan's “golden week” holiday period, was meant to limit travel and keep people out of public places.

Japan's third state of emergency is to include shutdown orders for bars, department stores, malls, theme parks, as well as theaters and museums-AP

Only three months before the postponed Olympics is set to open, Tokyo and Japan's second largest metropolitan area of Osaka was placed under emergency orders aimed at stemming the surge of coronavirus cases.

The measures, which occur during Japan's “golden week” holiday period, was meant to limit travel and keep people out of public places.

It is to end on May 11, just ahead of a widely reported visit to Hiroshima by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

Bach said this week that the visit, reported for May 17-18, was still in the “planning phase.” But his presence was immediately criticised by opposition lawmakers who said the Olympics is being prioritised ahead of public safety.

“Japan should decide its own public health policies. There is no reason we should be told by Mr. Bach what to do," said Yuichiro Tamaki, the head of the Democratic Party for the People.

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Bach said the duration of the state of emergency had nothing to do with his planned visit to the city, where he would greet the Olympic torch relay.

“This (state of emergency) is absolutely in line with the overall policy of the government,” Bach said. “But it is not related to the Olympic Games. It is related to the golden week.”

Japan's third state of emergency is to include shutdown orders for bars, department stores, malls, theme parks, as well as theaters and museums.

No cancellation plans yet

Even restaurants which do not serve alcohol are being asked to close early, as well as public transportation. Schools will stay open, but universities are asked to return to online classes.

“I hope that the situation is going be better as soon as possible," Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the organising committee, said Friday in a online briefing.

Hashimoto said several test events would continue during the emergency period, but without fans. The Olympics open on July 23.

When asked if there were any plans to cancel the Olympics, Hashimoto said, “As the organizing committee, we are not thinking about cancellation,”

The IOC gets almost 75 percent of its income from selling television rights and has seen that cash flow stalled by the postponement. It needs the games to happen, which will be followed in six months by the boycott-threatened Beijing Winter Olympics.