Tokyo Olympics | Other Sports

Organisers set a limit of 10,000 fans for all venues

Seiko Hashimoto.   | Photo Credit: Rodrigo Reyes Marin

The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the Games open in just over a month, organising committee officials and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Monday.

Organisers set a limit of 50% of capacity up to a maximum of 10,000 fans for all Olympic venues.

The decision was announced after so-called Five Party talks online with local organisers, the IOC, the International Paralympic Committee, the Japanese government and the government of metropolitan Tokyo.

The decision contradicts the country’s top medical adviser, Dr. Shigeru Omi, who recommended last week that the safest way to hold the Olympics would be without fans. He had previously called it “abnormal” to hold the Olympics during the pandemic.

The Games are set to open on July 23.

Local organising committee president Seiko Hashimoto said it was important to acknowledge the uncertainty around the pandemic during the Games.

Need to be flexible

“We need to be very flexible. If there is any abrupt change in the situation, we will hold five-party meetings again to make other decisions,” Hashimoto said. “If there is an announcement of a state of emergency during the Games, all the options like no-spectator games will be examined.”

Fans from abroad were banned several months ago. Officials said local fans will be under strict rules. They will not be allowed to cheer, must wear masks, and are being told to go straight home afterward.

Organisers said between 3.6-3.7 million tickets are in the hands of Japanese residents.

Having fans in the venues presents a risk of spreading the COVID-19 infections, and not just at the venues, since it causes more circulation on commuter trains, in restaurants and other public spaces.

Tokyo and other areas are under “quasi-emergency” status until July 11. This replaced a tougher full state of emergency that was in effect until last weekend. The new rules will allow restaurants to serve alcohol during limited hours.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who has favored allowing fans, said before the official announcement that he would bar fans if conditions change.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike also said before the talks that fans may need to be banned if conditions changes.

An Asahi newspaper poll of June 19-20 of almost 1,500 people showed 62% supported another postponement or cancellation of the Games. But about one-third supported holding the Olympics, up from 14% in May in the same poll.

In the same survey, 83% said they “feel uneasy” that the Olympics might spread the virus. The poll said 53% wanted no fans and 42% said attendance should be limited.

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Printable version | Jul 31, 2021 5:07:50 PM |

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