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Coronavirus

Suga extends Tokyo COVID emergency as Olympics hang in balance

Data shows results and shortcomings of loose restrictions, prolonged for 2 weeks

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga explains the decision to extend the emergency in Tokyo on March 5. (Photo by Uichiro Kasai)

TOKYO -- Japan's COVID-19 cases are falling thanks to, or perhaps despite, loose restrictions on economic activity. But with zero hour approaching for a decision on the fate of the Tokyo Olympics, the government is taking no chances and extended the state of emergency in the capital Friday evening.

The emergency was already lifted in most parts of the country by March 1. But Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced the alert in the Tokyo area will last an extra two weeks, from the current deadline of Sunday. The new deadline of March 21 will be just ahead of the planned start of the Olympic torch relay on March 25 -- the date widely considered the point of no return for deciding whether to hold the games.

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