Japan to expand state of emergency as COVID-19 shadows Olympics

Smokers wait their turn in a queue as they observe social distancing, during a smoke break ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games that were postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Tokyo, Japan July 22, 2021. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/File Photo

Japan’s government on Friday proposed states of emergency through Aug. 31 in three prefectures near Olympic host Tokyo and the western prefecture of Osaka, as COVID-19 cases spike to records, overshadowing the Summer Games.

Existing states of emergency for Tokyo – its fourth since the pandemic began – and southern Okinawa island should also be extended to Aug. 31, Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is spearheading Japan’s pandemic response, told a panel of experts in announcing the proposed expansion.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is expected to formally announce the move later on Friday after the experts approved it.

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