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Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaking to reporters in Tokyo on Wednesday. Photo: STR/Jiji Press/AFP via Getty Images

Summer Olympics events in the Tokyo area will be held without spectators, after Japan declared a state of emergency in the capital following a surge in COVID-19 cases, Japan's Olympics minister announced Thursday.

Why it matters: It's another huge blow to the spectacle and finances of the delayed and scaled-back Olympics, just two weeks ahead of the opening ceremony.

The big picture: Organizers had planned to allow venues to be filled up to 50% capacity, with a maximum of 10,000 Japanese spectators and no overseas fans. A surge in COVID-19 cases and the low rate of vaccinations forced them to reconsider.

  • Tokyo's fourth coronavirus state of emergency will run from this Monday, July 12 until Aug. 22, Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said. Bars and restaurants will be requested to suspend alcohol sales under the measures.
  • The Tokyo Games are due to begin with the opening ceremony on July 23.

What they're saying: "Taking into consideration the impact of the Delta strain, and in order to prevent the resurgence of infections from spreading across the country, we need to step up virus prevention measures," Suga said, per AP.

Flashback: International Olympic Committee vice president John Coates said in May that the Tokyo Olympics will proceed even if the city or other parts of Japan are under a COVID-19 state of emergency.

By the numbers: Tokyo reported 920 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, which was the highest total since 1,010 were reported on May 13, according to ESPN.

Go deeper ... Axios Today podcast: Controversy ahead of the Olympics

Editor's note: This article has been updated with the decision that the Olympics will be held without spectators.

Go deeper

Updated Jul 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Guinea reverses decision to withdraw from Tokyo Olympics

Photo: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Guinea’s sports ministry reversed its decision to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics Thursday and will send a delegation after all, the AP reports.

Why it matters: The reversal comes just a day after the country announced it had canceled its participation in this year’s Games as a precaution to the recent surge of COVID-19 variants.

Updated Jul 23, 2021 - Sports

Japan's Naomi Osaka lights Olympic cauldron, kicking off Tokyo Games

Naomi Osaka lights the Olympic cauldron. Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images

After a year-long delay, the Olympics finally got underway Friday as tennis star Naomi Osaka, who is competing for Japan, lit the cauldron, formally kicking off the Tokyo Games.

The big picture: Friday's opening ceremony looked, like many things over the last year, different than normal — multicolored seats replaced cheering fans, masks were a central part of the athletes' uniforms and a subdued, somber tone marked the occasion.

Jul 23, 2021 - Health

31 children under 12 test positive for COVID at NY summer camp

Thirty-one children under the age of 12 tested positive for COVID-19 after an outbreak at a sleep-away camp in upstate New York, the New York Times reported Thursday.

Why it matters: None of the children are seriously ill, but the infections raise concerns about the possibility of transmission to nearby communities. The cases come as the Delta variant spreads across the U.S.