Olympics spectators face a Covid shut-out
FANS were banned from the pandemic-postponed Tokyo Olympics which will open in two weeks, following a state of emergency, Olympic minister Tamayo Marukawa told the Japanese news agency Kyodo.
The ban was announced by the International Olympic Committee and Japanese organisers, reducing the games to a made-for-TV event.
Fans from abroad were banned months ago, and the new measures announced by Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga will clear venues around Tokyo, indoor and outdoor, of any fans at all.
The emergency declaration made for a rude arrival in Japan for IOC President Thomas Bach, who landed in Tokyo just hours before the new measures were announced.
He was to spend three days in selfisolation at the five-star hotel that lodges IOC members.
Mr Suga said the state of emergency would go into effect on Monday and last through August 22.
This means the Olympics, opening on July 23 and running through August 8, will be held entirely under emergency measures.
The Paralympics open on August 24.
“Taking into consideration the impact of the delta strain, and in order to prevent the resurgence of infections from spreading across the country, we need to step up virus prevention measures,” Mr Suga said.
Mr Suga, who had long favoured fans, hinted at a no-fan Olympics in announcing the state of emergency.
“I have already said I won’t hesitate to have no spectators,” he added.
Just two weeks ago, organisers and the IOC allowed venues to be filled to 50% of capacity but crowds not to exceed 10,000.
The state of emergency has forced a late turnaround, which was always an option if infections got worse.
“We will have to consider the option of no spectators,” Marukawa said in opening remarks with the IOC and others as they went into meetings to discuss a ban on fans.
The main focus of the emergency is a request for bars, restaurants and karaoke parlours serving alcohol to close.
A ban on serving alcohol is a key step to tone down Olympic-related festivities and keep people from drinking and partying.
Tokyo residents are expected to face stay-home requests and watch the games on TV from home.