Organisers of the rescheduled 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games have admitted that a final decision on domestic fan attendance for the event in Tokyo may not be made until weeks before it is due to commence.
It was confirmed last month that overseas spectators would not be permitted to attend, but the situation for those in Japan is still uncertain. The rescheduled Olympics are due to take place from July 23 to August 8, with the Paralympics to follow from August 24 to September 5.
The Tokyo 2020 organising committee had initially pledged to deliver a basic policy regarding maximum venue capacity by the end of April, but the rise in the number of COVID-19 infections in the capital and other major urban areas is complicating this decision.
The Kyodo news agency, citing several officials speaking on condition of anonymity, yesterday (Wednesday) reported that Tokyo 2020 is assessing several possibilities, including holding the Games without spectators and limiting attendances to 50% of the venues’ capacity. Tokyo 2020 is also said be looking into whether it will be possible to allow entry to all who have purchased tickets so far.
Japan’s vaccination programme has to date covered less than 1% of the population and Taro Kono, minister in charge of the country’s vaccine rollout, said the Games will be staged in “whatever way is possible and that may mean there will possibly be no spectators.”
Tokyo 2020 president, Seiko Hashimoto, yesterday said a decision on venue capacity may not be made until June. “We are still studying the timing,” Hashimoto said, according to the Associated Press news agency. She confirmed that June “was an option. I guess we need a little more time to make a proper judgment.”
Hashimoto acknowledged that the Olympics currently has low public support in Japan, with polls repeatedly showing that 70-80% of people are opposed to the Games being held. “In local municipalities the (COVID-19) situation is rather dire,” Hashimoto said.
“And in this context, Japanese citizens and residents have worries and concerns. I know that. For the safety and security of the Games, we must contain the spread of the virus as soon as possible.”