Olympic chiefs are adamant the Tokyo Olympics will go ahead this year, but there are still few clues as to whether fans will be allowed to attend due to COVID-19 restrictions.
- The president of the Tokyo organising committee said “no spectators is one of the options” being considered
- Yoshiro Mori described his most recent conversation with IOC president Thomas Bach as a pep talk
- Organisers are expected to reveal more of their plans next week
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo organisers will roll out their “playbook” next week, revealing their detailed plan about how to hold the Games during a pandemic.
It will set down strict rules for thousands of athletes arriving in Japan, about being isolated in bubbles, and then leaving the country as soon as they finish competing.
The Nikkan Sports newspaper, without citing sources, said organisers were expected to announce “soon” that fans from abroad would not be allowed to attend.
“Naturally, we are looking into many different scenarios, so no spectators is one of the options,” organising committee president Yoshiro Mori said after a video call with International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach.
Mori described his call with Bach — accompanied by Tokyo chief executive Toshiro Muto — as a kind of pep talk.
Both the IOC and Tokyo are trying to forge ahead while trying to brush off repeated reports of a pending cancellation.
“President Bach gave us his strong stance, and it was a great encouragement to us,” Mori said.
“And we are thankful. That is what I told him. Basically that was the main topic of the conversation today.”
Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto said earlier in the week a decision on fan attendance and other major issues would be announced “by the spring”.
The 15,400 competing athletes will be kept in a sterile bubble in Tokyo, but it is understood that thousands of others will not, including judges, officials, VIPs, sponsors, and media and broadcasters.
Fans are the most problematic and risky element, with the Olympics shaping up as primarily a television event.
Television money is critical for the IOC, which gets 75 per cent of its income from selling broadcast rights.
The local organising committee was expected to receive $US800 million ($1 billion) from ticket sales, its third-largest source of income.
Any shortfall is likely to be made up by a Japanese government entity.