Tokyo venues for the pandemic-delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics will not have spectators due to the city’s coronavirus state of emergency through the Games, according to the Japanese Olympic Committee. The announcement was made following a meeting of five Olympic and Japanese government groups responsible for the Games.
Japanese Olympic Committee Seiko Hashimoto said due to the pandemic, organizers have “no choice but to hold the Games in a limited way.” According to an IOC spokesman, it’s unprecedented for a host city’s venues not to have spectators.
There are a total 42 venues listed on the Tokyo 2020 website. Twenty-five are in Tokyo and the rest are in seven other prefectures. However, three prefectures near Tokyo — Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama — will not have spectators at Olympic competition venues, according to Hashimoto.
Miyagi, Fukushima, and Shizuoka prefectures have decided that venues can be filled to 50% of capacity with a maximum of 10,000 spectators, added Hashimoto.
When asked by reporters if stakeholders would have access to venues, Toshiro Muto, the CEO of Tokyo 2020 said International Olympic Committee (IOC) members and National Olympic Committee (NOC) executives would not be counted as spectators and would continue to have access to venues as they have “roles to play during the Games.” Muto said that these members will be required to have accreditation to have access to the venues.
Tokyo 2020 organizers will review the decision to allow stakeholders into the Olympic stadium during the Opening Ceremony on 23 July, according to Hashimoto.
Earlier on Thursday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshide Suga had confirmed the Games would be held under a state of emergency. “The number of infected cases in the area including Tokyo has been increasing since the end of last month,” said Suga, speaking at the start of the government’s Covid-19 task force meeting.
The new state of emergency for the capital will run from July 12 to August 22 — covering the 16 days of the embattled Games in its entirety.
“The number of severe cases and bed occupancy rate continues to be on the low level, but considering the impact of variants, we need to enhance countermeasures so that the infection will not spread nationwide,” added Suga. Suga added that a ban on serving alcohol in restaurants will continue during the state of emergency.
Japan has lagged behind Western countries in rolling out its vaccination drive. Only 15% of its population are fully vaccinated, compared to 47% in the United States and nearly 50% in the UK, according to CNN’s global vaccine tracker.