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Tokyo 2020 chief warns that Games must prepare for no spectators

Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto has dismissed calls for a postponement of this summer’s Games as she promised they would “100 per cent” go ahead but possibly without spectators.

The statement comes after Japan’s chief medical advisor, Shigeru Omi, described the prospect of holding the Games in the current climate as “not normal”.

International fans are unable to attend either the Olympics or Paralympics and a high number of coronavirus cases has raised questions over whether there will be any spectators at all. 

Hashimoto, according to the BBC, said: “I believe that the possibility of these Games going on is 100 per cent that we will do this.

“If an outbreak should happen during the Games times that amounts to a crisis or an emergency situation then I believe we must be prepared to have these Games without any spectators.”

In April, organisers confirmed that a final decision on domestic fan attendance will be made in June, just weeks before the start of events.

In a joint statement, the IOC, IPC, Tokyo 2020, Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Government of Japan said at the time: “As we look into the evolving situation with the domestic infections status involving new strains, we have agreed that a decision regarding spectator capacity at the Olympic and Paralympic venues will be made in June, in line with the government’s general guidance concerning the upper limit of spectator capacity in sports events.”

With 50 days to go until the Tokyo Olympics gets underway, Japan is currently in the midst of a fourth wave of coronavirus cases that has resulted in a state of emergency being declared in 10 areas.

There is disquiet among parts of the Japanese population about the Games going ahead as the first international athletes begin to arrive.

Officials have already halved the number of non-athlete participants, while 10,000 volunteers are reported to have quit.

Tokyo’s infection rate is dropping as a result of restrictions but the slow vaccine rollout and the risk of new variants circulating means the country is still vulnerable to the virus.

Omi told MPs: “If we are going to hold the Games under these circumstances … then I think it’s the Olympic organisers’ responsibility to downsize the scale of the event and strengthen coronavirus control measures as much as possible.”

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