Japan is considering banning all fans from Olympic events – paper

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A monument to the Olympic Rings is pictured in the water area of ‚Äč‚ÄčOdaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan on April 2, 2021. The picture was taken on April 2, 2021. REUTERS / Kim Kyung-Hoon TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

  • Foreign viewers already excluded from delayed games
  • The organizers will meet on Thursday to discuss the audience’s plans
  • Virus restrictions, public sentiments will influence the decision

TOKYO, July 7 (Reuters) – Japan’s government is making proposals banning fans from any event at the Olympics this month, Mainichi newspaper reported Wednesday as officials scramble to address public concerns about the spread of the coronavirus .

Medical experts have been saying for weeks that no viewer would be the least risky option at the global sports extravaganza that begins July 23. Organizers have already banned overseas viewers and set a cap for domestic viewers at 50% capacity, up to 10,000 people, to help contain a sustained outbreak of infection.

The Mainichi, citing government circles, said that such discussions were partly the result of political considerations after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s ruling party failed to win a majority in the elections for the Tokyo assembly on Sunday. The vote ahead of a general election later that year was seen as an expression of voter dissatisfaction with the government’s virus response.

The report also highlights the major logistical challenges related to the Games, which were accompanied by a year of almost daily debates about their potential impact on the spread of COVID-19 in Japan.

In response to the Mainichi story, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee said that audience restrictions, including competitions without spectators, will be based on the contents of the state of emergency or other relevant measures in effect at any time after July 12.

On Thursday, the government is likely to extend a quasi-emergency in Tokyo and three nearby prefectures beyond the original end date of July 11, government sources said.

Kyodo News reported that the extension would likely take a month, which means the curbs will remain in place during the Olympics, which ends on Aug. 8.

CONVERSATIONS

The question of spectators at other Olympic events is to be decided on Thursday in five-way talks with the governor of Tokyo and IOC president Thomas Bach, who arrives in Japan that day.

When asked by spectators at a press conference on Tuesday, government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said Suga said holding the Games without spectators was an option.

Shigeru Omi, the government’s top health advisor, told a parliamentary health committee Wednesday that it was important to reduce as much as possible the number of Olympic officials and others attending events.

Early July through September, which covers the Olympic Games period, is “one of the most important periods” in fighting the virus in Japan, he said.

“We said it would be better if the events took place without spectators,” said Omi. “We urge many people to take steps to prevent the infection from spreading further. Pictures of viewers would send a contradicting message to many people … In formulating our coronavuirus response, people’s feelings are a very important factor . “

Another blow to the spectacle of the Games, Tokyo organizers announced Tuesday that they would urge the public not to gather on the streets for the Olympic marathon, one of the Games’ most popular and famous events.

The Tokyo city government has also decided to move most of the torch relay, which is scheduled to reach the capital on Friday, from public roads.

Japan has not experienced the kind of explosive COVID-19 outbreaks as elsewhere, but has seen more than 800,000 cases and 14,800 deaths. Slow adoption has resulted in only a quarter of the population receiving at least one COVID-19 vaccination.

Additional coverage by Mari Saito. Lincoln Feast editing

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