Olympics-Japan mulling downgraded emergency state until Games start -paper

TOKYO, June 11 (Reuters) - The Japanese government is considering ending a state of emergency in Tokyo and several other prefectures as scheduled on June 20, but keeping a downgraded “quasi-emergency” state until the Olympics start in July, the Mainichi daily reported.

New coronavirus infections in Olympics city Tokyo have inched down during the last month of emergency restrictions although authorities remain concerned about the spread of variants and the continued strain on medical resources.

The Mainichi newspaper reported on Friday that the government would ask restaurants to keep shorter hours and impose other curbs under the targeted quasi-emergency measures. Bars and restaurants are now asked to close by 8 p.m. and are banned from serving alcohol.

A final decision is expected late next week, a few days before the end of the current emergency state, which also covers Hokkaido, host of the marathon event.

Polls have shown that a majority of the Japanese public opposes holding the Games this year, worried about the flood of athletes and officials from overseas. Japan has effectively been closed to foreign visitors since the pandemic broke out last year. The Japanese government and Olympic organisers have said the Games would go ahead - barring “Armageddon”, as one International Olympic Committee (IOC) member put it. The Olympics are scheduled to start on July 23. (Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim. Editing by Gerry Doyle)