Japan considering ban on all Olympic spectators as authorities prepare state of emergency for Tokyo
Written by tokyoclub on July 8, 2021
Japan is considering banning all spectators from the Olympics, several sources told Reuters on Wednesday, with authorities expected to declare a state of emergency for Tokyo to contain coronavirus infections 16 days before the Games begin.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said his government would decide on new measures to stop the spread of the virus on Thursday. Those measures are expected to determine whether spectators can attend Olympic events.
Medical experts have said for weeks that having no spectators at the Olympics would be the least risky option amid widespread public concern that the Games will fuel new surges of coronavirus infections.
Organizers have already banned overseas spectators and set a cap on domestic spectators at 50 per cent of capacity, up to 10,000 people, to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
Officials have been wrestling with the question for months but a ruling party setback in a Tokyo assembly election on Sunday, which some allies of Suga attributed to public anger over the Games, had forced the change of tack, sources said.
“Politically speaking, having no spectators is now unavoidable,” a ruling party source told Reuters.
Japan will hold a parliamentary election later this year and the government’s insistence that the Games – postponed last year as the virus was spreading around the world – should go ahead this year could cost it at the ballot box.
The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee said restrictions on spectators would be based on the content of Japan’s coronavirus state of emergency or other relevant measures.