06/21 03:55 CDT Tokyo Olympics to allow limit of 10,000 local fans in venues
Tokyo Olympics to allow limit of 10,000 local fans in venues
By STEPHEN WADE
AP Sports Writer
TOKYO (AP) --- The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the
games open in just over a month, organizing committee officials and the IOC
said on Monday.
Organizers set a limit of 50% of capacity up to a maximum of 10,000 fans for
all Olympic venues.
The decision was announced after so-called Five Party talks online with local
organizers, the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic
Committee, the Japanese government and the government of metropolitan Tokyo.
The decision contradicts the country's top medical adviser, Dr. Shigeru Omi,
who recommended last week that the safest way to hold the Olympics would be
without fans. He had previously called it "abnormal" to hold the Olympics
during the pandemic.
The Tokyo Games are set to open on July 23.
Fans from abroad were banned several months ago. Officials say local fans will
be under strict rules. They will not be allowed to cheer, must wear masks, and
are being told to go straight home afterward.
Organizers say between 3.6-3.7 million tickets are in the hands of Japanese
Having fans in the venues presents a risk of spreading the COVID-19 infections,
and not just at the venues, since it causes more circulation on commuter
trains, in restaurants and other public spaces.
Tokyo and other areas are under "quasi-emergency" status until July 11. This
replaced a tougher full state of emergency that was in effect until last
weekend. The new rules will allow restaurants to serve alcohol during limited
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who has favored allowing fans, said before the
official announcement that he would bar fans if conditions change.
"If a state of emergency is necessary, I will be flexible and open to no fans
in order to achieve that the games give top priority to safety and security for
the people," Suga said. "In case of a state of emergency, it is quite possible
... for safe and secure (games) I will not hesitate to have no fans."
He said he took "seriously" Omi's recommendations but did not follow them.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike also said before the the talks that fans may need
to be banned if conditions changes.
"Under this COVID-19 pandemic, people in Tokyo, people in Japan, are feeling
very uneasy. We have concerns and the experts are also making recommendations
about the risk of spreading the infection," Koike said. "If there should be a
major change in the sanitary situation, or infection situation, we need to
revisit this matter among ourselves and we may need to consider the option of
having no spectators in the venues."
In recent polls, support seems to be increasing for holding the Olympics,
though opposition is strong, depending how the question is worded. An Asahi
newspaper poll of June 19-20 of almost 1,500 people showed 62% supported
another postponement or cancellation of the games. But about one-third
supported holding the Olympics, up from 14% in May in the same poll.
In the same survey, 83% said they "feel uneasy" that the Olympics might spread
the virus. The poll said 53% wanted no fans and 42% said attendance should be
The seven-day average for new infections in Tokyo is about 400 daily. The curve
has flattened but health officials fear the Olympics and new variants will
drive it up.
About 6.5% of Japanese are fully vaccinated, and 16.5% have had at least one
shot, according to figures from the prime minister's office. More than 14,000
deaths in Japan have been attributed to COVID-19.
More AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/olympic-games and