- Entry of foreign spectators was already barred amid fears of the spread of the virus with international travel
- Local fans could now also be banned from attending in-person
As Japan gears up to organize the ‘safe’ 2021 Olympics, all fans, including locals, might be barred from attending the event amid a new state of emergency.
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, foreign fans were already barred from attending amid fears of the spread of the virus with international travel. However, authorities are now considering hosting the global event behind closed doors.
According to the Associated Press, President of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, Seiko Hashimoto, stated that local fans in Japan may also be barred from attending the 2021 Olympics.
"We would like to make a decision as soon as possible (on fans), but after the state of emergency is lifted we will assess," said Hashimoto.
The situation surrounding the Tokyo Olympics remains uncertain. The 2020 Olympics were postponed due to the Coronavirus, but this year Japan got the green light to organize the event. Despite the European Union (EU) supporting the ‘safe and secure’ 2021 Olympics, the games seem in jeopardy as Covid clouds loom large at the event.
The vaccination drive in the country is one of the slowest, while the Japanese government has also extended a state of emergency in multiple prefectures until June 20th.
However, Seiko Hashimoto did claim that one of the things that will determine whether fans are allowed to attend or not would be if other sports have begun to accept spectators. Another factor that will weigh on the decision is the potential for local medical services to be affected.
Meanwhile, public sentiment in Japan has turned decisively against the Tokyo Olympics. A poll cited by the Associated Press claimed that 60-80% of Japanese respondents want the games called off.
Pressure to cancel the Olympics largely centers around a large magnitude of international travel to the country that was among the most affected nations when the pandemic first broke out in late 2019. Currently, more than 15,000 athletes from 200 countries are scheduled to travel to Japan for the games.