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Japan extends emergency amid vaccine, Olympic uncertainty

Virus Outbreak Olympics Tokyo 2020
Posted at 8:22 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 10:29:37-05

TOKYO (AP) — Japan is extending a coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo and nine other areas through March 7.

The announcement by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of the one-month extension comes amid growing uncertainty over the national rollout of vaccines and the hosting of the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

Under the state of emergency, the government has issued non-binding requests for people to avoid crowds and eating out in groups, and for restaurants and bars to close by 8 p.m. New cases have declined in Tokyo and nationwide since early January, but experts say hospitals remain flooded with serious cases and that preventive measures should remain in place.

The Tokyo Olympics, which was pushed back a year, are now scheduled to start July 23.

Last week, the IOC said it remains committed to holding games this summer.

“In the last couple of days, we had consultation calls with the International Federations and the National Olympic Committees, also getting reports from the athlete representatives," said IOC President Thomas Bach. "We could experience there today, again, that all of them are fully united and committed; all 206 National Olympic Committees, all the International Federations and the athletes are standing behind these Olympic Games. We see the same commitment on the Japanese side with the Japanese government, the Organising Committee and the Japanese Olympic Committee.”