Organisers have said that up to 10,000 fans will be allowed at the Tokyo Olympic events, as they warned that the competition could move behind closed doors if infections surge.
This declaration on Monday, just weeks before the opening ceremony, has ended months of speculation about whether domestic spectators would be able to attend the pandemic-postponed games as overseas fans were banned in March.
“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, officials left open the possibility of a reversal if the virus rebounds as Tokyo was under a COVID 19 state of emergency until Sunday.
“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 experts, including top advisors to the government, have said holding the games behind closed doors would be “ideal” from a health perspective.
They fear crowds of fans could fuel a new surge in infections in a country still racing to vaccinate its residents. Organisers said it was unlikely that negative virus tests would be required to attend.
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”.