'Decision on Games fans end of the month'

SYDNEY • International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president John Coates said yesterday a decision on whether spectators will be allowed at the Tokyo Games will be made at the end of this month, as part of a more general ruling for all sports events in Japan.

The Japanese government has already decided to bar overseas fans because of a fourth Covid-19 wave, which has forced Tokyo and other areas of the country into a state of emergency.

Australian Coates, the IOC's point man for the Games, is hoping some spectators will be allowed.

"I'd love to see (crowds) and the athletes would love to see it," he added. "The decision will be put off until a decision on the whole of sport at the end of the month. The national leagues are still going on...

"The government will make a decision on crowds and I think it will vary from venue to venue, it won't be a fixed percentage for all."

While polls have shown many Japanese oppose holding the July 23-Aug 8 Games over fears that the influx of foreign athletes and staff will lead to an outbreak, Coates said he was confident the health protocols put in place by organisers would keep everyone safe.

Referencing the five test events held "successfully" in Japan this year, he said: "I'm very, very confident in the work undertaken by our Japanese hosts.

"We've also got the experience since last November of some 240 international sporting events taking place around the world involving 50-60,000 athletes. It's on that basis that I'm confident."

According to the Mainichi daily, the Japanese government is considering ending its state of emergency in Tokyo and several other prefectures as scheduled on June 2. But it will maintain some curbs like restricting restaurant hours until the Games start.

Tokyo 2020 organising committee president Seiko Hashimoto yesterday also called on the other G7 countries to back the Olympics as preparations move into the final stage, saying Japan would be "grateful" for the support.

Around 18,000 Games workers including referees and volunteers will be vaccinated from next week, she added.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2021, with the headline ''Decision on Games fans end of the month''. Subscribe