“Spectatorless Games” remain an option for the Tokyo Olympics, which officially open in just four weeks, the president of the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee said on Friday.
Seiko Hashimoto’s reception comes just four days after she announced on Monday that up to 10,000 local fans would be admitted to the seats – no more than 50% of the venue’s capacity, regardless of indoor or outdoor events.
Organizers postponed the decision for local fans for several months, and fans from abroad were banned months ago. The move to allow fans was opposed by many medical experts, who said the safest Olympics would be without fans due to a coronavirus.
“What I feel is that no viewing should remain an opportunity for us as we look at things,” Hashimoto told a news conference. “The situation is changing from time to time, so we need to stay flexible and fast in response to any change. Games without spectators are one of our possibilities. “
Organizers seemed to give way slightly to fans after a COVID-19 panel told the Tokyo government on Thursday that there was “a sign of a resurgence” of infections in Tokyo.
The panel said infections had risen 11% in the past week – based on an average of seven days – with more cases of an infected version of Delta being detected. Organizers say they will look to fans again after the current “quasi-state of emergency” ended on July 11th.
Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa reiterated his wake-up call on Friday when he confirmed that a member of Uganda’s team who tested positive for coronavirus when entering Japan last week was infected with the Delta variant.
Despite extensive pre- and post-entry tests, cases like this are likely to happen to 11,000 Olympic athletes and 4,400 Paralympic athletes entering Tokyo, along with tens of thousands of added staff, coaches, judges and IOC staff and sports federations.
The Ugandan member, who is said to have been a coach, was found positive last Saturday at Narita airport near Tokyo and has been quarantined. But Japanese authorities allowed the rest of the nine-man team to travel more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) on a rented bus to their camp before a game in Izumizano, western Osaka prefecture.
The eight members of the team are quarantined at a hotel there. A second member of the team tested positive on Wednesday, but it is not known if the case is related to the Delta option.
“The Olympic Organizing Committee is very interested to know more about this example (Uganda),” Hashimoto said. “We will pay close attention to get as much information as possible from this experience,” and the operations are refined accordingly.
She added: “We cannot say that everything is 100%. We will make a balloon as close to 100% as possible. “
The head of the Imperial Household Agency said on Thursday that Emperor Naruhito was “extremely concerned” about the health risks posed by the Olympic Games. It was a rare move for the ceremonial figure, who stays away from politics.
He was not obliged to talk about the Olympics, and the fact that he did was more important than what he said.
Hashimoto was asked at least three times about the emperor’s comments, but did not mention his name and gave vague answers.
“We need to remove the worries and anxieties of all Japanese,” she said. “We really need to make the games work safely and securely. So we’re going to have to put more effort into that.”
The IOC is moving forward with the Olympics, in part because it receives almost 75% of its revenue from the sale of broadcasting rights. Estimates show that $ 3 billion to $ 4 billion is available online in Tokyo.
The official cost of the Olympics is $ 15.4 billion, although several government audits say it is much higher. All but $ 6.7 billion is public money. The IOC contributes about $ 1.5 billion.
Japan has reported about 780,000 cases of coronavirus and attributed about 14,500 deaths to COVID-19. About 9% of Japanese are fully vaccinated as the government intensifies its efforts to inoculate.