Tokyo Olympic spectator cap set at 10,000 people per venue
TOKYO. KAZINFORM - The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics organizers on Monday agreed to allow up to 10,000 spectators to enter each games venue, provided it does not exceed 50 percent of a venue's capacity, Kyodo reports.
During an online meeting, representatives of five organizing bodies, including International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, finalized a policy on spectator limits, having already barred those from overseas.
They are expected, however, to leave open the option of holding the games without spectators in case the infection situation worsens before or after the Olympics begin on July 23.
Since the games' one-year postponement in March last year, organizers have been reworking preparations in hopes of holding the major international event safely amid a global health crisis.
The Japanese public remains unconvinced that it is possible to stage the Olympics and Paralympics without complications, despite repeated reassurances from the government and organizers.
A nationwide survey conducted by Kyodo News over the weekend found that around 86 percent of people in Japan are concerned about a resurgence in COVID-19 cases if the games are held.
In his opening remarks, Bach said he looks forward to hearing a policy regarding spectator limits formulated by the Japanese organizers, saying he is «absolutely sure» it will be «a decision to best protect the Japanese people and all participants.»
«Because of this full trust in you, I can already tell you now that even before having heard your decision that the IOC will fully support your decision, and will fully contribute to making these games as safe and secure for the Japanese people and for all participants,» he said.
Bach added that «well over 80 percent» of athletes' village residents will be vaccinated.
The Japanese organizers had initially sought to set the policy by the end of spring, but the schedule was delayed as Tokyo has been under COVID-19 states of emergency for most of this year due to multiple waves of infections driven by highly contagious coronavirus variants.
Organizers have said they will apply the Japanese government's policy on spectator caps at large events to the Olympics, implying they will allow 50 percent of venue capacity or up to 10,000 fans, whichever is smaller.
For the Olympic opening ceremony at the National Stadium, which can accommodate 68,000 fans, the spectator cap is expected to comprise both ticket holders from the general public and officials related to the games, according to officials familiar with the planning.
Organizers were considering allowing about 20,000 spectators in total, but they have been trying to cut the number of games officials, possibly by several thousand people, the officials said.
They may decide on spectator limits for the Paralympics later as the games do not begin until Aug. 24, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity as a formal decision has yet to be made.
Tokyo shifted to a quasi-state of emergency from Monday, a day after a third state of emergency since late April ended. But medical experts, including Japan's top COVID-19 adviser, have called for the games to be held behind closed doors.
Ahead of the five-party online meeting, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters that the Olympics may be held without spectators if the COVID-19 situation in the country worsens and he has to declare another state of emergency.
Koike also highlighted the point at the meeting, saying she thinks the organizers should consider the possibility of staging the games behind closed doors if the situation of the pandemic and the country's medical system change.
Under guidelines drafted by the organizing committee, spectators are advised to travel to and from venues directly without stopping anywhere to limit the movement of people and thus reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
The committee has sold tickets for 42 percent of the total seats in venues. But tickets purchased for some events have topped 50 percent of venue capacity.
The committee is considering holding a lottery to determine who will be allowed to watch in person, according to officials familiar with the matter.
Olympic competitions will be held in about 40 venues located in Tokyo and other prefectures. Other large capacity venues include the International Stadium Yokohama, which seats roughly 72,000, and the Tokyo Stadium, which can hold up to 48,000 spectators.