Local organizers and the International Olympic Committee (ICO) pushed ahead Wednesday with plans to open the postponed Tokyo Olympics in just under three months, unveiling the latest set of rule books to show how the games can be held during a pandemic.
The timing of the second edition of the “Playbooks” is not ideal. The version for Olympic athletes is out Wednesday, with similar guides for other participants out on Friday.
Tokyo, Osaka and several others areas came under a third state of emergency this week, and the death toll in Japan from Covid-19 has passed 10,000. The numbers are good by global standards, but poor compared with other places in Asia such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand or South Korea.
The state of emergency has closed department stores, theme parks, and bars and restaurants serving alcohol. It also has forced baseball games to be played in empty stadiums after having allowed fans for much of the pandemic.
Polls consistently show 70-80 percent in Japan think the Olympics should not be held.
Only 1 percent of the Japanese population has been vaccinated and that number will still be small when the Olympics open on July 23. So far, officials say Japanese athletes have not been vaccinated.
This contrasts with many of the 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes entering Japan who — encouraged by the IOC — will have shots. As will thousands of judges, officials, sponsors, media and broadcasters.
This version of the Playbooks will offer more details than the first edition in February, but much of the specific planning will remain in flux until the final update comes out in June.
Though vaccines are now available, the strategy for the Olympics is geared around holding the games in a “bubble” as if there were no vaccines.
Organizers are not expected to announce until June if fans will be allowed into venues — and if so, how many. Fans from abroad have already been banned. The decision on venue capacity was promised to come to this month by organizing committee President Seiko Hashimoto, but has been pushed back.
Taro Kono, the minister in charge of vaccination, suggested earlier this month that empty venues seemed likely. Ticket sales were to account for $800 million in revenue. SOVEREIGNPH