The Tokyo Olympics are set to begin on July 23, but there is still much that is up in the air on how the Games will look. 

Tokyo is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases — hitting a two-month high on Wednesday — and it’s looking increasingly likely that a state of emergency will be declared before the Olympics begin. 

Tokyo is allowing domestic fans to attend events, but as cases continue to rise, even domestic fans are in danger of being barred from Olympic events. 

According to The Associated Press, IOC President Thomas Back will arrive in Tokyo on Thursday, and a decision is expected to be made on Friday in a meeting between the IOC and local organizers to determine whether fans can attend events.

Tokyo is currently in a quasi-state of emergency, but it’s due to end on Sunday. There were 920 new cases reported in Tokyo on Wednesday, its highest total since May 13 when 1,010 cases were reported. 

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is reportedly considering reinstating the state of emergency until August 22 and is expected to make a decision on Thursday after meeting with a panel of experts. 

“The infections are in their expansion phase and everyone in this country must firmly understand the seriousness of it,” Dr. Shigeru Omi, a top government medical adviser, told reporters.

In June, Tokyo announced that domestic fans will be allowed in the venues, but with strict guidelines. 

Venues will be limited to 50% capacity and a maximum of 10,000 fans. In addition, no outward cheering will be allowed and no hugs or high-fives will be permitted between athletes. 

All spectators will be required to wear face masks at indoor venues and will have their temperatures checked before entering. Anyone with a temperature above 99.5 — or showing any symptoms of Covid — will not be allowed in. 

While at venues, no cheering, high-fives, towel-waving, or autographs will be allowed.

Attendees at outside venues will be permitted to remove their masks, as long as there is a two-meter gap between them and other attendees, according to Forbes

“The festive mood will have to be suppressed—that has become a major challenge,” head of the Tokyo games’ organizing committee Seiko Hashimoto told reporters. “People can feel joy in their hearts, but they can’t be loud, and they have to avoid crowds. Those are the areas where we need to be creative, and we are putting in a lot of effort to come up with a new way of celebrating.”

It’s now looking doubtful that these rules will even need to be enforced. 

The Olympics are going forward despite advice from medical experts to postpone the games and pushback from Japanese locals. 

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito voiced his concerns over the Olympics in June, saying through the grand steward of the Imperial Household Agency — Yasuhiko Nishimura — that he was “extremely worried.”

“His majesty is extremely worried about the current situation of the COVID-19 infections,” Nishimura said. “While there are voices of unease among the public, I believe [the emperor] is concerned that holding the Olympics and Paralympics … may lead to the expansion of the infections.”

Japan has had roughly 810,000 cases of COVID and nearly 14,900 deaths.

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