Organisers have indicated that up to 10,000 spectators would be allowed at the Tokyo Olympic games, but have cautioned that if infection levels rise, the competition may be moved behind closed doors.
This announcement, made only weeks before the opening ceremony, puts an end to months of uncertainty over whether home fans will be allowed to attend the pandemic-affected games, which were postponed in March due to the epidemic.
“In light of the government’s restrictions on public events, the spectator limit for the Olympic Games will be set at 50 percent of venue capacity, up to a maximum of 10,000 people in all venues,” organisers said in a statement.
However, because Tokyo was under a COVID 19 state of emergency until Sunday, officials left open the prospect of a reversal if the virus resurfaced.
“If there should be a major dramatic change in the infection situation, we may need to revisit this matter amongst ourselves and we may need to consider the option of having no spectators in the venues,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said.
Senior medical professionals, including government advisers, have suggested that hosting the games behind closed doors would be “perfect” from a health standpoint.
They are concerned that large groups of fans could spark a fresh outbreak of diseases in a country that is still rushing to vaccinate its citizens. Negative virus testing are unlikely to be necessary, according to the organizers.
International Olympic Committee Chief, Thomas Bach, speaking before the announcement, said he was “absolutely sure that it will be a decision to best protect the Japanese people and all participants.”