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Olympic no fans

Toshiaki Endo, vice president of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee speaks on the phone after the five-party meeting in Tokyo, Japan July 8, 2021. Behrouz Mehri/Pool via REUTERS

International

No fans allowed: Olympic organizers reverse course

Jul 08, 2021

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Olympic organizers, including the International Olympic Committee, announced Thursday there will be no fans allowed at the delayed 2021 Olympic Games later this month.

The decision comes after Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced the Olympics will happen with Tokyo under a state of emergency. The state of emergency begins next Monday and will last until Aug. 22.

“If we see a decrease in the number of beds [taken by patients with the coronavirus], I might shorten the period of the state of emergency,” Prime Minister Suga said.

The main focus of the emergency is to ask bars, restaurants and karaoke parlors serving alcohol to close.

A ban on serving alcohol is a key step to tone down Olympic-related festivities and keep people from partying. Tokyo residents are expected to be asked to watch the games on TV.

Tokyo reported 896 new cases on Thursday, up from 673 a week earlier. It’s the 19th straight day that cases have topped the mark set a week prior. New cases on Wednesday hit 920, the highest total since 1,010 were reported in May.

The uptick in infections has also forced the Tokyo city government to pull the Olympic torch relay off capital streets, allowing it to run only on remote islands off the Tokyo coast.

It’s unclear how the torch will enter the stadium for the opening ceremony.

While the state of emergency will cover the entirety of the Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games don’t start until Aug. 24.

The Olympics are pushing ahead against most medical advice, partially because the postponement stalled the IOC’s income flow. It gets almost 75 percent of its income from selling broadcast rights. Estimates suggest it would lose $3 billion to $4 billion if the Olympics were canceled.

“We can hold the Olympics, because of Japan – such comments as well as wishes for holding a successful games were written in a statement [issued by G7],” Suga said. “In that sense, I would like to hold the Games in order to meet such expectations.”

About 11,000 Olympians and 4,400 Paralympians are expected to enter Japan. That’s in addition to tens of thousands of officials, judges, administrators, sponsors, broadcasters and media.

The IOC says more than 80 percent of residents in the Olympic Village will be vaccinated.

The news comes a day after the global death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 4 million.

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