Spectators will be banned from the Tokyo Paralympic Games due to the COVID-19 pandemic, just as they had been to the most recent Olympics, organizers said on Monday.

There had been a few exceptions for competitions held elsewhere than in Tokyo during the Olympics. This time, there will be no exceptions, except for a few children who will be able to attend events that have not been identified.

The organizing committee also asked the public not to go out to watch the road competitions.

The decision was announced after a meeting attended by International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons, Tokyo Games Organizing Committee President Seiko Hashimoto, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, and Minister of the Olympics, Tamayo Marukawa.

The Paralympics will kick off on August 24 with about 4,400 athletes, a smaller contingent than the Olympics, which had some 11,000 athletes. But the JPs are coming as new cases of infection have skyrocketed in Tokyo, which could expose a group of athlete more vulnerable to the coronavirus.

At a press conference, Parsons signaled that there was no room for complacency following the Olympics.

“In view of the current infection cases in Tokyo and elsewhere in Japan, all who attend these JPs must be vigilant,” he said.

New cases of infection tripled in Tokyo during the 17 days of the Olympics, although medical experts said the rise was not directly related to the Games. Rather, they believe that it is an indirect effect, while the public has been distracted and that they have been led to believe in a false sense of security offered by the holding of the Olympics.

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As the situation worsens, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Monday extended the state of emergency in Tokyo and other prefectures until September 12. This state of emergency has been in effect since July 12 and was due to end later this month.

The Paralympics will end on September 5.

“The cases of infection are reaching alarming heights,” Suga noted after meeting with the various ministries.

Tokyo recorded 5,773 cases on Friday, a new high. The Japanese capital reported 4,295 cases on Sunday. The rise in cases has greatly affected the medical system. Experts say the situation is out of control. Others speak of disaster.

Japan has so far counted 15,400 deaths from COVID-19.

Dr Haruo Ozaki, president of the Tokyo Medical Association, said in an interview published by the Tokyo Shimbun regional daily on Saturday that a significant number of people are still unvaccinated. He adds that the current situation is worse than during the Olympics.

According to the latest estimates, only 37% of the Japanese population has been fully vaccinated.

Ozaki said that presenting (the JPs) behind closed doors is “strictly necessary”. He attributes the new outbreak of cases to the Delta variant and believes holding the Paralympics is a political decision.

“According to medical opinions, it will be difficult,” he added. The Olympics are a festival and perhaps have […] served as an indirect cause for the rise in cases. “

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