May 29, 2021 - Sports

Japan extends coronavirus state of emergency weeks before Summer Olympics

People wearing face masks while crossing a street in Tokyo on May 28.

People wearing face masks while crossing a street in Tokyo on May 28. Photo: Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images

Japan on Friday extended a state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas of the country through at least June 20 in response to rising coronavirus cases, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: The country is set to host the 2020 Summer Olympics in July, though many, including doctors associations, scientists and high-profile business executives, have called for the games to be canceled to avoid a larger outbreak.

Context: Some international scientists said that cancelling the games would be the "safest option."

  • Some doctors fear that Japan's health system may be unable to accommodate the international teams' medical needs as medical professionals respond to new domestic cases.
  • The state of emergency had previously been scheduled to end on May 31.

By the numbers: Japan currently has more than 62,000 active cases, 2% of which are in critical condition.

The big picture: International Olympic Committee Vice President John Coates said last week that the games will begin even if Tokyo or other parts of Japan are under a COVID-19 state of emergency.

  • Coates added the IOC has a mitigation plan to help prevent transmissions, though scientists have warned that it emphasizes ineffective techniques, like temperature checks and contact tracing apps.

Go deeper: Japan's 11th hour COVID Olympics nightmare

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