TOKYO (CelebrityAccess) — With just 10 weeks to go before the start of the Olympic Games, Japan on Friday expanded its current state of emergency orders from six prefectures to nine, including the nation’s most populous region around Tokyo amid spiraling coronavirus infection rates
Areas of Japan impacted by the new emergency orders extending though May 31st include Hokkaido, where the Olympic marathon will be held, as well as Okayama and Hiroshima in Southern Honshu, Japan’s main island.
“Infections are escalating extremely rapidly in populated areas,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga during a Minsterial meeting on May 14th. “As new variants continue to spread, we judged that now is a very important time to stop the further spread of infections.”
Under the strictures imposed by the emergency order, bars, karaoke parlors and most entertainment facilities have been ordered to close. However, Prime Minister Suga says he is committed to moving forward with holding the Olympic Games in Japan this summer in “a safe and secure” way.
As part of Japan’s planning for the games, foreign spectators have been barred from attending and foreign press may be barred as well. In addition, Japan has created a raft of new rules intended to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Despite these precautions, the idea of hosting the Olympic Games in Japan has becoming increasingly unpopular and pressure is mounting on Suga to cancel the event.
On Thursday, a national union of doctors joined the calls for the games to be canceled, calling the games a potential “superspreader event.”
“This is a tough thing for the athletes, but somebody has to say it,” Naoto Ueyama, who heads the union, said at a news conference on Thursday, according to the Asahi Shimbun.
Japanese attorney and politician Kenji Utsunomiya, organizer of the Stop Tokyo Olympics campaign launched a petition calling on the games to be canceled which has received more than 358,430 in 2 days.
“By hosting this pompous event called the Olympics, valuable health care resources will be spent on (the Games), and people’s lives and livelihoods will be threatened,” Utsunomiya said during a press conference on May 14th.
The shift in public sentiment away from the games follows growing frustration for Japanese citizens at renewed restrictions and the slow pace of vaccinations in the country. Roughly 2% of Japan’s population has been fully vaccinated, one the lowest rates for any industrialized nation.
On Thursday, Japan reported 6,800 new coronavirus cases, increasing its total to 665,547, with 11,255 deaths.