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Japan mulls to delay imperial ceremony due to COVID-19

Country reports first sumo wrestler infected by new coronavirus as more provinces demand stricter measures

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 10.04.2020
Japan mulls to delay imperial ceremony due to COVID-19


The spread of the novel coronavirus may delay an imperial ceremony in Japan while country has reported first sumo wrestler infected by COVID-19, according to local media on Friday.

Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that the imperial ceremony to proclaim 54-year-old Crown Prince Fumihito's new status -- scheduled for April 19 -- will be delayed in view of the state of emergency in the country, the local Kyodo news reported.

Japan has declared emergency in seven provinces, including the capital Tokyo, to combat the infection as the confirmed cases in the country has surpassed 5,500, while nearly 100 people have died of the virus so far.

"Following the prime minister's instructions, we will start making arrangements to postpone the ceremonies as a state of emergency has been issued," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference.

The Japanese government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to officially endorse the postponement of the royal ceremony in the coming week.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Japan last month also delayed Emperor Naruhito's planned visit to the U.K.

In a statement, Japan Sumo Association said one of its members was infected by COVID-19.

It is first case where a wrestler of country’s ancient sort has tested positive for the infection.

"It made me realize that infections exist close around us. I hope from the bottom of my heart that (the wrestler's) condition doesn't become severe," said Shibatayama, the association's communications director.

Many games and tournaments have been delayed and postponed including Tokyo Olympics 2020 due to the global pandemic of COVID-19.

To boost its efforts against the spread of infection, the local government in Kyoto -- one of the top tourist destinations in the country -- is also asking Abe-led federal government to impose emergency in the province.

Provincial Governor Takatoshi Nishiwaki said on Friday: "[We are] in a severe situation." There are currently around 160 cases of infection in the province.

In Tokyo, Governor Yuriko Koike said that restaurants and the Japanese-style "izakaya" pubs will be asked to close by 8 p.m. (1100GMT) daily.

The restaurant operators have also been directed to stop serving alcohol by 7 p.m. (1000GMT).

Global situation

After originating in Wuhan, China last December, the virus has spread to at least 185 countries and regions across the world, with its epicenter shifting to Europe, while China has largely come out of the crisis.

The virus infected over 1.6 million people worldwide, while some 355,500 people recovered from the disease, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. Over 95,700 have died.

Despite the rising number of cases, most people who get infected suffer only mild symptoms and make a recovery.

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