Japan to decide soon on domestic spectators at Olympics

Officials in Tokyo weigh up allowing up to 10,000 local spectators at Games

Media reports in Japan claim officals plan to move forward on a proposal that will allow up to 10,000 spectators or 50 per cent of a venue’s capacity at the upcoming Olympics. File photograph: Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images

Media reports in Japan claim officals plan to move forward on a proposal that will allow up to 10,000 spectators or 50 per cent of a venue’s capacity at the upcoming Olympics. File photograph: Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images

 

Japan will decide this month on whether to allow domestic spectators at the Tokyo Olympics, the government’s chief spokesman said on Wednesday, following media reports a proposal to allow up to 10,000 people at events was under consideration.

The final call will be made taking into account coronavirus infection conditions and the prevalence of virus variants, chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters when asked about the reports.

Japan plans to move forward on a proposal that will allow up to 10,000 spectators or 50 per cent of a venue’s capacity, whichever is smaller, at events during the Games, Kyodo News said late Tuesday, citing government sources.

While television network TV Asahi reported prime minister’s Yoshihide Suga’s administration is reviewing options such as putting a cap for the number of domestic spectators at 5,000 or 10,000.

Foreign spectators are already prohibited from the Olympics beginning on July 23rd as part of measures planned to deliver what Japanese government and Olympic officials promise will be a “safe and secure” Games.

The government’s top medical adviser Shigeru Omi will hold a news conference on coronavirus countermeasures on Wednesday, the Cabinet Office said.

Omi has been outspoken in recent weeks about the risks of holding the Games during a pandemic and has said guidance from him and other experts was not making its way to the International Olympic Committee.

The IOC has tried to quell such concerns by saying that most athletes and media coming to Tokyo will be vaccinated, and that so-called playbooks governing hygiene, movements and testing of participants will further mitigate infection risks.

Sluggish

Tokyo, Osaka and eight other prefectures remain under a state of emergency that is set to end on June 20th. Osaka governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said Wednesday he is against lifting the emergency declaration “too easily,” adding he would request quasi-emergency measures to avoid an infection rebound.

Japan’s sluggish vaccination push is starting to gain steam of late, and recent polls have pointed to acceptance that the Games will go forward.

Hofu City, in the southwestern prefecture of Yamaguchi, is vaccinating high school students, far ahead of the rest of the country, before they volunteer to help with pre-Games training there by Serbia’s national volleyball team, NHK reported.

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