Tokyo Olympics: State of emergency less strict than NZ COVID lockdown

Tokyo's COVID-19 lockdown for the Olympics is considerably less strict than Kiwis might expect.

Newshub's Mitch McCann has arrived early in the Japanese capital and is serving a three-day isolation period before he’s released.

Once that initial quarantine is over, McCann and cameraman Bob Grieve will be allowed to visit Games venues for 11 days under supervision, then eventually mix with general population under state of emergency.

"It's very different to what we would call state of emergency at home," McCann tells The AM Show. "It's actually a bit looser.

"Bars and restaurants can still operate, but they can't serve alcohol and have to closed by 8pm. Department stores have to be closed by 8pm, but that's as far as it goes in terms of a state of emergency.

"A lot of people are still walking around Tokyo as per normal, but unlike home, everyone is wearing a mask here and everyone is taking precautions for COVID-19."

Tokyo reported another 900 cases on Saturday, but McCann says the Japanese Government has limited power to confine citizens to their homes, as Kiwis were at Alert Level 4.

"One of the things I've been told by people here is that the Japanese Government has a constitution it has to follow and it's very difficult, under that constitution, to lock people down.

"A lot of these state-of-emergency requirements are actually requests and they can't tell people what to do, but the Japanese are very compliant people, so mostly they do follow the rules."

Concern over the pandemic spike in recent days has resulted from the slow rollout of vaccines in the Japanese capital. 

After undergoing the immigration process at Japan's border, McCann has confidence in those procedures for keeping the coronavirus out.

"It's so thorough, I would find it difficult to see COVID coming in, it's spreading it once people are already here," he says.

Although opinion polls indicate Japanese citizens would rather not have the Olympics during the pandemic, McCann hasn't seen any obvious inhospitable signs since his arrival.  

"We've kind of been welcomed, but we haven't been able to talk to many people, because of these quarantine rules," he says. "But there is a very limited buzz or excitement about the city at the moment.

"There are no big Olympic events happening. The torch relay has been completely watered down and changed to a torch-lighting ceremony, so there's no realy excitement in the air.

"I think the Japanese people will still have some protests - they won't make us feel unwelcome, even though they probably don't want us here."

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