The question of whether any fans will be allowed into the Tokyo Olympic venues is still under debate and is unlikely to be announced before the end of the month.
Tokyo: The question of allowing any fans at the Tokyo Olympic Games is still under debate and is unlikely to be announced before the end of the month.
Tokyo and several prefectures have a state of emergency until June 20. Infection has slowed recently, but the spread of the variant is still a concern that could put pressure on already stressed medical facilities.
Dr. Nobuhiko Okabe, director general of the Kawasaki City Institute for Public Health, suggested on Friday that he would lean on some fans. He spoke on a panel put together by the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee.
“Thinking in a different way, I think it’s an option to suggest people enjoy games on TV – like teleworking,” he said. “We can suggest a different way of enjoying the games.”
Okabe said it’s not just about the fans in the venue, but what they do after they leave — going to the bar or restaurant.
“We don’t want people to move much,” he said. “It’s our wish as we think about anti-virus measures.”
Organizing committee chairman Seiko Hashimoto originally said he would announce a decision regarding local fans in April, but has repeatedly postponed it.
Ticket sales amounted to $800 million in revenue for the organizing committee. Much of this will be lost and has to be made up by Japanese government entities.
Japan is officially spending $15.4 billion to run the Olympics, although government audits show the figure is much higher. All except $6.7 billion is public money.
The Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee derives about 75% of its proceeds from selling broadcast rights, which run the Games and the urgency to hold it during a pandemic.
Japan’s Jiji Press reported Friday, without citing sources, that Dr. Shigeru Omi will release a report next week that warns about the risks of being fans. He is the former regional director of the World Health Organization and the head of a government task force on the virus.
Speaking at a parliamentary session last week, he said, “It is important that we should not let the Olympics trigger an influx of people.”
Hashimoto warned that there could be penalties for anyone breaking the strict rules around the Tokyo Games. He did not specify what they would be and said it was still under discussion.
Protocol for anyone entering Japan for the Olympics requires frequent testing, limited movement and monitoring by GPS on a smartphone.
This includes everything from athletes to journalists to staff and other officials working in sports.
About 11,000 athletes will compete in the Olympics, with 4,400 for the Paralympics. Thousands of others will also enter Japan for both events. Organizers say the total figure for both events (which includes athletes) is around 93,000.
Organizers say it is about half of the original estimated total of 180,000.
“There are hard rules that we need to set in order to make the citizens of Japan feel safe,” Hashimoto said. “We want to avoid punishing people, but we need to take full measures.”
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