There won’t be spectators at the Tokyo Olympics after the Japanese government declared a state of emergency because of the country's rising COVID-19 case count. The news comes just two weeks before the Summer Games are set to begin, with the Opening Ceremony on July 23.

The 920 COVID-19 cases reported by Tokyo on Wednesday were the city’s most since May, according to The New York Times. The rise in infections comes as the more contagious Delta variant continues to spread.

"Taking into consideration the effect of coronavirus variants and not to let the infections spread again to the rest of the nation, we need to strengthen our countermeasures," Japan's Prime Minister Yoshide Suga told reporters.

 

 

The state of emergency is set to last until Aug. 22, two weeks after the Olympics closing ceremony.

The Tokyo Games have already been postponed for a year because of the pandemic. The official global death toll from COVID-19 reached 4 million Wednesday, though the actual number of coronavirus deaths is likely much higher. Japan's own death count is just shy of 15,000.

This marks the fourth coronavirus-related state of emergency in Tokyo. The last one was issued in April when the daily case-count reached a new high of around 6,500 per day in the nation. Most restrictions were lifted at the end of June.

Seiko Hashimoto with the Japanese Olympic Committee said there is “no choice but to hold the Games in a limited way,” CNN reported. 

Fifteen percent of Japan is fully vaccinated, according to The Times. In the United States, by comparison, 48% of the population is fully vaccinated.

Coronavirus fears continue to plague the already delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics Coronavirus fears continue to plague the already delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics Photo: AFP / Philip FONG