Decision on Games spectator limits to be delayed to June

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach visits the National Stadium in Tokyo in November last year.

The central government and organizers of this summer’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are considering delaying to June their decision on upper limits for numbers of spectators at the Games, amid a resurgence in novel coronavirus infections, several government sources said.

The decision was initially scheduled to be made this month. However, the central government and organizers have found it difficult to forecast how the pandemic will unfold, the sources said.

The central government, the organizing committee, the Tokyo metropolitan government, the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee are expected to decide on delaying the decision when they hold an online meeting as early as on April 28.

Regarding how many spectators will be allowed, the central government and the organizing committee are considering the following three options, listed in order of seriousness, depending on the number of cases:

■ No spectators.

■ Up to 5,000 spectators per event, not exceeding 50% of a venue’s capacity.

■ Up to 50% of a venue’s capacity.

The second option could be applied to venues if the administrative areas where they are located are placed under a state of emergency or emergency-level priority measures, according to the sources.

The central government and the organizing committee are also considering allowing admissions by all domestic holders of tickets that have sold so far, or selling additional tickets if the pandemic subsides prior to the opening ceremonies, the sources said.

During their meeting on March 20, the five parties agreed not to allow spectators to come to Japan from abroad and to present a basic stance on the upper limit on the number of domestic spectators by the end of April.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he believes declaring a new state of emergency would not cause any negative impact on the Games, in response to questions from reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office.