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Tokyo 2020 bars spectators after state of emergency extended

The number of Covid-19 cases in Tokyo hit 920 recently, the highest level since mid-May.

Tokyo 2020 has forbidden all spectators from the Olympics, following the extension of ‘state of emergency’ pandemic measures in Japan. 

Tamayo Marukawa, the Olympics minister, announced on Thursday after the Games’ five organising bodies – the local organising committee, the Japanese government, the Tokyo metropolitan government, the International Olympic Committee, and the International Paralympic Committee – met to discuss the impact of the extended restrictions.

Tokyo 2020 had recently declared plans to allow 10,000 spectators into venues, with a 50-per-cent capacity cap. However, the OC had said a “no-spectator” Olympics was still a probability.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, who landed in Japan on Thursday, attended the five-party meeting virtually. Also present were the head of the organizing board Seiko Hashimoto, Tokyo governor Yuiko Koike and Andrew Parsons, president of the IPC.

The decision to block spectators was made by the three Japanese parties but left open the possibility for some spectators at events outside areas with state of emergency measures.

Hashimoto said an arrangement was yet to be made about the possible attendance of dignitaries and some other VIPs, including sponsors, at the opening ceremony on July 23. Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the OC, said sponsors, sports federation officials, and some others would be considered Games ‘organizers’ and so would be able to attend venues.

The decision to completely bar spectators means a total loss of ticket revenue for Tokyo 2020. With the 10,000-spectator limit, ticket revenue was already expected to be less than half the $800 million initial projection. Sponsors have also started looking out for other options as the hospitality for the event will see no action this year. 

Earlier this week, fans were urged to stay away from the marathon and race walk events in Sapporo as part of the Covid-19 safety measures. 

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