Japan Bans Olympics Spectators At Tokyo Area Venues Due To Covid-19

Fans will be banned from Tokyo-area stadiums and arenas when the Olympics begin in two weeks.
July 09, 2021 | 07:26
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Stands at the National Stadium in Tokyo will be empty during the Olympics.   © Reuters   © Reuters
Stands at the National Stadium in Tokyo will be empty during the Olympics. Photo: Reuters

The Tokyo Olympics will be held without spectators at venues in the capital and three surrounding prefectures, organisers said on July 8, as the city enters a fourth state of emergency after a surge in Covid-19 infections.

Apart from Tokyo, Olympics events in Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba prefectures will also run without fans, Nikkei Asia reported.

The Tokyo Olympics, postponed by one year due to the pandemic, now will be held without fans at the opening ceremony as well as at specific events in the host city and surrounding areas. The government had hoped to allow spectators with capacity limits, but rising cases upended that plan.

Soccer and baseball stadiums in Fukushima, Miyagi and Shizuoka prefectures will be allowed to have spectators up to 50% of capacity or up to 10,000 people. Ibaraki will allow only children to attend. Sapporo, which will host the marathons, has yet to decide on its spectator policy.

"I'm very sorry for all the people who were disappointed. I hope you understand the difficult choice that we made," Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto said at a late-night news briefing.

Nikkei reported that organizers were leaning toward the decision early in the evening, during five-way talks among the Japanese and Tokyo governments and Olympic officials. It comes hours after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced emergency measures for Tokyo that will last through Aug. 22, covering the length of the Summer Olympics and ending days before the Paralympics begin.

Organizers will delay a decision on spectators at the Paralympic Games, which begin on August 24, until after the Olympics.

Speaking before the meeting, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach indicated that organizers were always open to the possibility of shutting out all spectators in the interest of a "safe and secure" games.

Organizers had expected to generate about $800 million in ticket sales

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto, left, holds a virtual meeting with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. (Pool photo)
Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto, left, holds a virtual meeting with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach. Pool photo

Organizers had expected to generate about $800 million in ticket sales. Any shortfall — and it could be almost the entire amount — will have to be made up by Japanese government entities.

Japan is officially spending $15.4 billion on the Olympics, and several government audits say it’s much larger. All but $6.7 billion is public money.

Two weeks ago, organizers and the IOC allowed venues to be filled to 50% of capacity, with crowds not to exceed 10,000. The state of emergency forced the late turnaround, which was always an option if infections got worse, according to AP.

The organizing committee and their domestic sponsors, the 68 Japanese corporations that raised over $3 billion for the games, had held out hope that some local spectators would be allowed after overseas fans were banned from entering Japan in March.

The decision clouded Bach's arrival in Japan. Bach will quarantine for three days in Tokyo before visiting Hiroshima next week for the first day of the Olympic truce, a U.N. tradition to cease hostilities and grant safe passage to athletes. His lieutenant John Coates, who arrived in Japan mid-June, will visit Nagasaki on the same day. Athletes and other officials are meant to remain in Olympic bubbles in Tokyo.

“Race between vaccination and the spread of the Delta variant”.

Japan Bans Olympics Spectators At Tokyo Area Venues Due To Covid-19
There will be no fans at the Tokyo Olympics. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Suga was cited by Financial Times as saying: “The number [of people infected with Covid] who are seriously ill and the utilisation of hospital beds are still low, but taking into account the effect of variants, we must act to prevent another ripple of infections across the country.”

Yasutoshi Nishimura, the minister in charge of Japan’s Covid-19 response, described the situation as a “race between vaccination and the spread of the Delta variant”. He said vaccinations would continue as fast as possible during the state of emergency.

After a slow start, Japan’s vaccine rollout has gathered pace. However, it has given a first dose to just 27 percent of the public, leaving a large pool of unvaccinated people among whom Covid-19 can spread.

On July 7, Tokyo reported 920 new cases of coronavirus, the highest daily figure since May 13. The number of cases has been creeping up since Japan lifted a state of emergency last month.

The new state of emergency will be the fourth in Tokyo, after previous declarations in spring 2020, winter 2021 and spring 2021. Under previous restrictions, the public were asked to work from home when possible and restaurants were requested to close at 8pm./.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games mascot. Photo: olympics.com
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games mascot. Photo: olympics.com

The 2020 Summer Olympics and also known as Tokyo 2020, is an upcoming international multi-sport event scheduled to be held from July 23 to August 8.

The Olympic Games is a quadrennial international multi-sport event celebrated as a global sports festival by people all over the world. The Olympic Games are held in both the summer and winter, with the ultimate goal of cultivating people and world peace through sports. T

The Games of the XXIX Olympiad held in Beijing in 2008 saw athletes from 204 countries and regions participate. London hosted the 2012 Olympics, commemorating the 30th Olympic Games. They are the largest sporting celebration in terms of the number of sports on the programme, the number of athletes present and the number of people from different nations gathered together at the same time, in the same place, in the spirit of friendly competition.

Organized every four years, they include a summer and a winter edition. Athletes from all 206 National Olympic Committees and the IOC Olympic Refugee Team are eligible to compete in a wide range of sporting disciplines and events, watched by a worldwide audience, according to Olympics.com.

The first edition of the modern Olympic Games was staged in Athens, Greece, in 1896, while the first winter edition was held in Chamonix, France, in 1924. Since 1994, the Olympic Games have alternated between a summer and winter edition every two years within the four-year period of each Olympiad.

Why not call it Tokyo 2021?

In announcing the postponement, organizers said they wanted the games to stand as a beacon of hope and the Olympic flame as the “light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present.” It was agreed that the Olympic flame would stay in Japan and the event would keep the name Tokyo 2020. By keeping the name, the IOC also ensures that logos, packaging, t-shirts, merchandise and broadcast chyrons remain the same - a cost-saving move for sponsors and partners, cited Bloomberg.

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