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Tokyo Olympics to be held under state of emergency, won't allow spectators

Rising COVID-19 cases in Japan's capital have led to a third state of emergency for the city, one that will last throughout the Olympic Games.

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Olympic rings statue

The Olympics were postponed from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

The delayed 2020 Olympics will go ahead, but not the way Japanese officials first imagined. On Thursday, Tokyo was officially placed under a state of emergency for a third time, Nikkei reported, as Japan's government attempts to host the international games while stopping the spread of COVID-19. 

Spectators will be barred from attending the games in Tokyo and its surrounding areas. Events held outside the area covered by the emergency (like the marathon) will allow spectators, but they'll be asked not to cheer the runners on the roads, as noted by The New York Times.

"New cases in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area have been rising since June," Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was reported as saying in the Japan Times. "Stronger measures have become necessary in those areas, but could be lifted early if we see evidence of the positive impact of the vaccine rollout."

Tokyo's COVID-19 cases peaked with the new year, with over 2,392 new cases on Jan. 8. Numbers have fallen since, but they've been rising since the middle of June. Tokyo recorded 337 new COVID-19 cases on June 15, but July has seen new cases fluctuate between 500 and 920. It's the third state of emergency the city has endured since the pandemic's onset, following similar precautions in April and January. 

Around 15% of Japan's 126 million citizens have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

A worldwide death toll from the virus had risen to more than 4 million as of Thursday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. In Japan, nearly 15,000 people have died of the virus.

After being postponed more than a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Olympics are scheduled to begin July 23 in Tokyo. They'll run through to Aug. 8. Though many experts cautioned against holding the games, Japan's government has pressed on -- albeit with increasing restrictions as the games approached. 

Officials last month said local fans would be allowed to physically attend the games, but with venues limited to 50% capacity or up to 10,000 spectators max. In March, officials banned overseas spectators from the Olympics.