Until 10,000 fans will be allowed at Tokyo Olympics events, organizers said on Monday, warning that the competition could go behind closed doors if infections increase.
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The decision, just weeks before the opening ceremony, ends months of speculation over whether spectators will be allowed to postpone the Games in the event of a pandemic. Foreign fans were banned in March.
“In light of government restrictions on public events, the spectator limit for the Olympic Games will be set at 50% of venues capacity, up to a maximum of 10,000 people at all venues.” the organizers said in a statement.
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A decision regarding spectators at the Paralympic Games will be postponed until July 16, a week before the opening of the Tokyo Olympics.
And officials have left open the possibility of a reversal if the virus rebounds.
“If there were to be a major drastic change in the infection situation, we may have to reconsider this issue among ourselves and we may have to consider the option of not having viewers at the sites,” he added. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said.
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Senior medical experts, including key government advisers, said holding the Games behind closed doors would be “ideal” from a health point of view.
They fear that crowds of fans will fuel a new wave of infections in a country still in the race to vaccinate its residents.
The decision was announced after five-party talks between the organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and officials from the Japanese government, the Tokyo government, the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, IOC Chief Thomas Bach said he was “absolutely sure that this will be a decision to best protect the Japanese people and all participants”.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics have reportedly already abandoned plans to sell more tickets and may now face the prospect of holding lotteries among existing holders for the right to attend events.
Prior to the postponement of the Games last year, organizers had sold around 4.45 million Olympic tickets and nearly one million Paralympic tickets in Japan.
In December, organizers announced they would refund 18% of Tokyo Olympics tickets purchased domestically and 21% for the Paralympics.
This will likely leave many events with more tickets sold than seats available.
Japan has experienced a relatively small virus outbreak, with nearly 14,500 deaths, despite avoiding severe shutdowns seen elsewhere.
But vaccine rollout has been slower than in many developed countries, only accelerating in recent days. About 6.5% of the population is now fully vaccinated.
The organizers also face a skeptical audience. Polls have consistently shown that most Japanese would rather see the Games delayed further or canceled altogether.
Recent polls suggest an easing of the opposition, with more in favor of holding the Games than canceling them – if the postponement is not offered as an option.
A survey released on Monday found that around a third of those polled wanted the Games to go ahead, up from 14% last month, though a majority still prefer a postponement or further cancellation.
Organizers say strict rules will ensure the safety of athletes and the public, and Bach said on Monday that “Much more” 80% of people staying in the Olympic Village will be vaccinated.
Athletes will be barred from contact with the public and risk expulsion from the Games if they break the rules, including wearing masks and daily antivirus testing.
In a taste of the complexities to come, a member of the Ugandan Olympic team tested positive upon arriving in Japan on Saturday.
The team would have been fully vaccinated and should have tested negative before traveling to Japan.
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This notice was published: 2021-06-21 09:24:29