Story at a glance
- Japanese newspapers say that there will be a limited number of spectators in the stands this year.
- This is due to Japan still struggling with containing COVID-19 and Tokyo still under a “high risk” public health classification.
As Japan prepares to host the 2021 Summer Olympics amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the event is likely going to be broadcasted across the world with limited in-person spectators.
Japan’s Asahi newspaper has been consistently reporting that just a few VIP guests will sit in Tokyo’s 68,000-seat National Stadium during the opening ceremony in 17 days, The Associated Press (AP) reports.
The paper added that other venues will also feature few in-person attendees outside of Olympic athletes and staff. The International Olympic Committee is expected to make a statement confirming the attendee policies by Thursday.
Part of this decision comes from Japan’s struggle to suppress COVID-19 spread in recent months. As of July 6, there are more than 800,000 confirmed cases since the onset of the global pandemic, with Japan seeing a major peak of 44,000 new cases in a single day on May 10.
Officials recently said they will host up to 10,000 spectators at 50 percent capacity as the country ended its state of emergency. The country has managed to drive down cases to lows not seen since March 2021, but surging case numbers are forcing officials to reverse that decision. Japanese people broadly did not support hosting the 2021 Olympics due to continued virus spread and low vaccination rates as of January 2021.
Asahi noted that some VIP guests permitted into the stands will be sponsor officials and other dignitaries, with an estimated cap set at about 10,000 people in stands.
Roughly 11,000 Olympic athletes from all over the world will arrive along with 4,400 Paralympians into Japan.
Data from July 6 shows that there were 593 new COVID-19 cases reported in Tokyo alone, with government sources noting that the city is classified as having a “high risk” of virus resurgence.