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Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Olympic spectator decision delayed by Tokyo COVID emergency

Audience limits will not be fixed until one month before games

Seiko Hashimoto, president of Tokyo 2020, waves at the start of a five-party meeting of Olympic organizers in Tokyo on April 28.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics said on Wednesday that they will be deciding limits for domestic spectators in June, not April as originally planned.

The postponement decision was made jointly by Tokyo 2020, the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Japanese government.

"Currently, it is difficult to accurately predict the infection situation in July," Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa told reporters after the five-party meeting.

Organizers said the state of emergency declared last weekend had forced the postponement. Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto said the declaration was a "a situation we did not anticipate."

Confirmed daily cases of COVID-19 surged to over 4,000 last week, prompting Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to reimpose restrictions on Tokyo and other prefectures ahead of the coming Golden Week holiday.

Organizers said all participants in the games, athletes and support staff will have to test negative twice before entering Japan. Athletes will be tested every day after their arrival. Marukawa said private testing companies will be used to avoid overwhelming the local health system.

Toshiro Muto, Tokyo 2020's chief executive, said a determination has yet to be made on the number of medical staff that will be needed for the games, but some local estimates put the number at around 10,000.

Athletes, visitors, and domestic participants in the games will be told to remain inside the Olympic Village, not to use public transport, and to eat only in designated areas.

Muto was asked how visitor compliance with COVID-19 countermeasures would be enforced. "The worst penalty would be the possibility of taking away accreditations," he said.

Despite going into a state of emergency, Tokyo 2020 is pushing ahead with Olympic test events in May. Those will start on Saturday with the FINA Diving World Cup. Australia has already withdrawn its divers because of Japan's deteriorating COVID-19 situation.

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