Tokyo still wants a full house at Olympic events

TOKYO • Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said yesterday that the best-case scenario for next year's postponed Olympics is to have venues full of spectators, as the organisers wrestle with how to plan for the Games amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With Covid-19 infections on the rise in many countries around the world, Olympic organisers have not decided whether to allow spectators into venues next year and if so, how many. They said previously that they will not make a decision on numbers until the spring.

Ms Koike, speaking at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, said the organisers were still hopeful venues could be filled with fans during the July 23-Aug 8 Olympics.

"The best-case scenario... would be when all athletes from all countries come here in safety and with peace of mind and the Olympics can, as in previous years, be held with full spectators present as well," she said.

Although Japan has largely avoided the huge numbers of Covid-19 infections seen in other countries, daily cases in Tokyo rose to records above 500 last week.

The Tokyo 2020 organising committee has been discussing ways to hold a "safe and secure" Games despite the recent spike.

"Following Tokyo, Paris will host the (Summer) Games in 2024 and then Los Angeles in 2028. We will create a new model that benefits the post-Covid world and I wish to pass this on to these two cities," Ms Koike added.

She warned that Tokyo was seeing a rise in infections among older residents, including cases where people had contracted the virus while eating out and brought it home to elderly relatives.

She also met Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga yesterday to discuss a domestic travel promotion campaign introduced by the government earlier this year to try to stimulate local economies hit by the near-complete absence of foreign tourism amid the pandemic.

The government is preparing to pause the campaign in Osaka and Sapporo following sharp rises in Covid-19 cases, the minister handling the coronavirus response said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2020, with the headline 'Tokyo still wants a full house at Olympic events'. Subscribe