Tokyo scraps Olympic Games public viewing sites to cut Covid-19 risks

There had been six planned viewing sites across the Japanese capital.
There had been six planned viewing sites across the Japanese capital.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Tokyo will cancel all public Olympic viewing events in an effort to reduce the risk of coronavirus infections, the Japanese capital's governor said on Saturday (June 19).

Having postponed the Games for a year because of the pandemic, Japan has already banned overseas spectators - in an Olympics first - while reducing the number of participants, volunteers and guests.

However, officials are forging ahead with hosting the Games from July 23.

"We have decided to cancel these live viewing sites that gather people," Ms Yuriko Koike told reporters, after meeting Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

"On the other hand, we will make greater use of the Web to create exciting atmospheres for the Games and to disseminate various cultural information."

There had been six planned viewing sites across the Japanese capital.

The announcement came as Ms Koike and Mr Suga prepare to meet Olympics and Paralympics officials on Monday for a key consultation during which they are expected to finalise whether to allow domestic spectators inside Games venues.

Politicians and the organisers are pushing for some spectators to be allowed.

But Japan's top infectious disease experts have urged them to consider holding the Games behind closed doors.

Japan has had a comparatively small virus outbreak, with just over 14,000 deaths from about 783,000 Covid-19 cases despite avoiding harsh lockdowns.

The government has recently accelerated vaccination efforts, with just over 6 per cent of the population fully jabbed.

Ms Koike said the metropolis would turn some facilities that were marked for Olympics viewing events into vaccination centres.