TOKYO: Japan is leaning toward allowing domestic spectators at the Tokyo Olympics despite the COVID-19 pandemic, media reported on Wednesday, with organizers planning to monitor the movements of foreign media to prevent spread of the virus.
More Japanese government officials and 2020 Tokyo Olympics organizers are in favor of holding the Games with domestic spectators as COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out and case numbers decline, the Asahi newspaper reported, without citing sources.
This is in contrast with their position about a month ago when there was an atmosphere among Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s administration that the Games, starting July 23, needed to be held without spectators, the report said.
The Summer Games has seen strong opposition from the public and medical experts over concerns the event could lead to more infections and overload medical facilities, despite assurances from Suga’s administration that the Games can be held safely.
Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto on Tuesday said that overseas media will be closely monitored to ensure they do not leave pre-registered areas in an effort to ease public concerns.
Foreign media will be monitored via GPS and will not be allowed to visit the houses of local friends or other unregistered areas, Hashimoto added, according to the Asahi and other local media.
Organizers will finalize plans for spectators before the end of this month after consulting with the Japanese government, as well as the Tokyo administration, media quoted Hashimoto as saying.
Foreign spectators are already prohibited from the Olympics and Japanese may also be kept away from what organizers promise will be a sanitised “bubble” event to minimize contagion risk.
The Olympics have been postponed by a year amid concerns over how organizers can keep volunteers, athletes, officials and the Japanese public safe during a fourth COVID-19 wave.
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