Tokyo 2020 president open to spectators at Olympic Games
Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto is open to fans being allowed to attend the rescheduled Olympic and Paralympic Games this year, albeit in limited numbers.
Organisers, the International Olympic Committee and other bodies involved in the event are reportedly due to meet at some stage next week to discuss the possibility of whether spectators will be permitted at the Games, amid ongoing concerns surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic.
Any decision regarding spectators possible attendance will be made over two stages. The first will be to determine whether to allow foreign spectators at all — expected by the end of this month — before establishing how many fans could be permitted at various venues.
IOC president Thomas Bach revealed that a final decision could be made in either April or May, just a matter of months ahead of the scheduled start of the Games, taking place from July 23 to August 8.
Hashimoto, who replaced Yoshiro Mori as head of the organising committee last month, told Japanese media that she believed the Olympic and Paralympic Games should be staged in front of spectators.
"When we think about the possibility of holding the Olympics without fans in the stands, athletes will definitely wonder why there are no fans just for the Olympics and Paralympics when other competitions are allowing in spectators," Hashimoto said.
"Everyone wants an early decision about the direction to be taken regarding fans to prepare tickets and hotel accommodations."
Meanwhile, IOC executive director for the Olympic Games Christophe Dubi said organisers "have to take the decision as late as possible but as early as needed" regarding spectators.
It has become increasingly likely in recent months that foreign fans will be prevented from attending events at the Games because of the pandemic.
Japan is fearful over large numbers of fans from across the world travelling to the country and potentially spreading the Covid-19 virus during the Games.
Capacities could also be restricted at Olympic and Paralympic events to limit the risk posed by the novel coronavirus.
About 4.48 million tickets for the Olympics had already been sold as well as 970,000 for the Paralympics. Only 810,000 of Japanese ticket-holders had requested refunds as of December.
A state of emergency still remains in the host city but cases have fallen in the Japanese capital in recent weeks. As of yesterday, Tokyo had 111,000 active cases, with less than 1,000 new cases being reported.
It has also been reported in Japan that foreign athletes could be allowed to enter Japan and train before the Games when the state of emergency is due to be lifted later this month.