Venues at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo will be able to operate at 50% capacity with up to 10,000 fans permitted, it has been confirmed today (Monday).

The event will be open to Japanese fans only after it was announced in March that overseas spectators would not be able to attend the Games. Today’s announcement only refers to the Olympics, with a decision on the Paralympics to be made by July 16.

The decision follows a meeting held earlier today between the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Government of Japan.

It was decided at the meeting that the current competition schedule for the Olympics would remain unchanged. Students in the schools’ spectator programme and their supervisors will not be considered in the capacity limits and will be treated separately.

Should a state of emergency or other priority measures aimed at preventing COVID-19 infection be implemented at any time after July 12, restrictions on the number of spectators at the Olympics could be altered. In the event of any rapid change in infection status and in the capacity of the medical care system, a five-party meeting will be held to consider further measures.

This year’s rescheduled Olympics will take place from July 23 to August 8, with the Paralympics to follow from August 24 to September 5.

Mask-wearing will be required in competition venues at all times, while speaking in a loud voice or shouting will also be prohibited. Fans will leave venues in a staggered manner to reduce the risk of crowding and the potential spread of COVID-19, and fans will be requested to travel directly to venues and return home directly, taking all necessary precautions when moving between prefectures.

Organisers also intend to look into either cancelling or reducing the scale of any live sites and public viewing events to minimise the movement of people. Other Games-related events will also be reviewed and new safe and secure ways of cheering and supporting athletes will be established.

The COVID-19 situation will continue to be monitored in Japan and abroad, including the status of the different variants of the virus.

Today’s news comes after the Japanese Government last week announced plans to permit up to 10,000 spectators for major events in prefectures in which it has lifted a COVID-19 state of emergency.

Under current guidelines that are due to run through to the end of June, major events in prefectures that exit a state of emergency are allowed a maximum of 5,000 people or 50% of venue capacity.

This in theory would allow for 34,000 fans at the 68,000-capacity National Stadium (pictured), the venue for athletics and the opening and closing ceremonies of Tokyo 2020, but the 10,000 capacity limit has been put in place today.

Organisers have repeatedly insisted that the Games will go ahead despite the ongoing challenges caused by the pandemic. Japan’s chief medical advisor, Shigeru Omi, has described the prospect of holding the Games in the current climate as “not normal” but Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto said earlier this month that they would “100%” go ahead.

Image: Scott Kouchi/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size