Wed. Jun 23rd, 2021

The president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee hinted Friday that even local fans may be barred from venues when the games open in just under two months.

(photo courtesy: http://www.wgnradio.com)

Fans from abroad were ruled out months ago as being too risky during a pandemic.

The prospect of empty venues at the postponed Olympics became more likely when the Japanese government decided Friday to extend a state of until June 20 as Covid-19 cases continue to put the medical system under strain.

The state of emergency was to have been lifted on Monday. The extension in Tokyo, Osaka and other prefectures raises even more questions if the Olympics can be held at all.

Organizers and the IOC are insistent they will go ahead despite polls in Japan showing 60-80 percent want them called off.

“We would like to make a decision as soon as possible (on fans), but after the state of emergency is lifted we will assess,” organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said at her weekly briefing.

Hashimoto promised to decide on local fans by April, then put it off until early June. Now the deadline is within a month of the July 23 opening date.

“There are many people who are saying that for the Olympic Games we have to run without spectators, although other sports are accepting spectators,” Hashimoto said. “So we need to keep that in mind. We need to avoid that the local medical services are affected. We need to take those things into consideration before agreeing on the spectator count.”

Cancellation pressure grows daily on Tokyo and the IOC as more questions arise about the risks of bringing 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes from more than 200 countries and territories into Japan, a country that has been largely closed off during the pandemic.The IOC says more than 80 percent of athletes and staff staying in the Olympic Village on Tokyo Bay will be vaccinated. They are expected to remain largely in a bubble at the village and at venues. SOVEREIGNPH

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