TOKYO • The Beijing Winter Olympics next year will need spectators to be successful, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said yesterday, the day the women's football and baseball/softball competitions kicked off in Tokyo amid empty stands due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"We would like to have the international community there," said Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr, who heads the IOC's coordination commission overseeing preparations for the Beijing Games.
"We need very successful Games next year in Beijing. We really need that success for the sake of everybody... for keeping that light of hope really bright and open."
The pandemic has meant that organisers of the Feb 4-20 Beijing Games have yet to launch their ticketing programme and Samaranch is concerned that there could be a second straight closed-door Olympics.
"We need and we want to have spectators," he told an IOC session in Tokyo. "We want to have the opportunity for everybody to enjoy the hospitality and enjoy the great Chinese offers."
The Tokyo Games had sold millions of domestic and international tickets before all spectators were banned from the summer event with Tokyo currently under a state of emergency.
China has effectively closed its borders to nearly all travellers since March last year.
No major international sporting event has been held in the country since the outset of the pandemic, and there are doubts this year's WTA Finals in Shenzhen and the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix - both were cut last year - can be held.