Decision looming on Olympic crowds
Japanese authorities will hold talks with the IOC on a question of atmosphere vs. safety.
A decision to allow crowds at Olympic events is expected to be made this week.
International crowds were already banned by the Japanese government, but there is still hope local sports fans may attend. The decision may vary from venue to venue and be subject to whether sites are indoors or outdoors.
Japanese authorities will hold talks with the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee on Monday.
Japanese medical experts said on Friday that banning spectators at the Olympics was the least risky option while floating the possibility that venues could hold up to 10,000 fans in areas where “quasi-emergency” measures, such as shorter restaurant hours, have been lifted.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has also cancelled all public viewing sites, diverting some venues as COVID-19 vaccinations centres instead.
Having no crowds would be a major blow to broadcasters who have paid for world-class events with packed stadiums. In 2010 largely empty venues for the Commonwealth Games in India lacked atmosphere.
Polls show most people in Japan are opposed to holding the Games, concerned about tens of thousands of athletes, officials and media descending on the country.
This week Japan was recording around 1,700 new COVID cases a day. Only 15% of Japanese have at least one COVID-19 vaccination.