The Tokyo Summer Olympics begin in a month, and organizers have revealed that up to 10,000 locals will be allowed to spectate at each venue––but cheering will not be allowed.
A limit of 50% capacity has been set for stadiums, but if local coronavirus cases rise, the rules could be changed and crowds banned. The decision not to allow spectators from abroad was made months ago.
The fans will be under strict rules––they are being encouraged to clap as they will not be allowed to cheer, must wear masks, and are being told to go straight home afterward. Also prohibited are alcohol, hugging, and autographs.
“The festive mood will have to be suppressed—that has become a major challenge. People can feel joy in their hearts, but they can’t be loud, and they have to avoid crowds. Those are the areas where we need to be creative, and we are putting in a lot of effort to come up with a new way of celebrating.”
– Seiko Hashimoto, head of organizing committee
Some health officials still oppose the Games going ahead. Although new infections seem to be dropping, it is feared that allowing spectators to gather in groups in a country that remains largely unvaccinated could cause a spike in cases. Dr. Shigeru Omi, Japan’s top medical advisor, recommended last week that the safest way to hold the Olympics would be without fans.
The Tokyo Games is the first in modern history (since 1896) to be postponed (except for during the two World Wars).
Tokyo has just emerged from a state of emergency, having managed to flatten the curve of new cases. The capital and other areas are now under “quasi-emergency” status until July 11. The Games begin July 23rd.
Japan has seen 14,000 deaths with COVID-19. This is better than many countries but not as well as some others in Asia, and its vaccination rollout remains behind many Western ones. About 6.5% of Japanese are fully vaccinated, and 16.5% have at least one shot.