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Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Spectators at Tokyo Olympic venues capped at 10,000

Sponsors, officials and students in a school program not counted as spectators

 A general view of the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on June 17.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Olympic organizers on Monday decided on a spectator limit of 10,000, or up to 50% of capacity, per venue for domestic fans at the Games that open in just over a month.

The decision came after the government lifted the state of emergency in Tokyo and other prefectures on Sunday. Although a quasi-state of emergency will be in place in Tokyo, the spectator limit at large events is expected to lifted to 10,000 after the restriction is lifted on July 11. Currently, the upper limit is at 50% of capacity or 5,000 people.

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto told reporters that organizers will hold a meeting to consider steps such as banning spectators if there is any rapid increase in infections and the medical system comes under strain.

Currently, 3.64 million tickets have been sold. Organizers are aiming to cut the number to 2.72 million through a lottery, for which details will be unveiled later this week. "We will reduce the number of spectators in a fair manner," Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said.

Due to the spectator limit, ticket revenue will be "less than half" of the 90 billion yen ($819 million) it had originally expected, Muto added. He said Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the national government and Tokyo 2020 would discuss how to make up for the loss.

At all venues, those involved with the Games such as sponsors and officials of international sports federations will not be included in the numbers to be cut. "They are not spectators but they are one of the organizers," Muto said. Students in a schools' spectator program will be also exempted from the reduction -- 590,000 tickets have been sold through this program.

The opening ceremony will be attended by fewer than 20,000 people including spectators and those stakeholders.

Asked if the stakeholders will be allowed to attend should all the spectators are banned under the state of emergency, Muto did not provide a clear answer. "It is possible to think that they could be allowed to enter the venue because they are not spectators," Muto said. "We will consider it carefully when the games will be held behind closed doors," he added.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters on Monday that if a new state of emergency is declared during the games, it is possible they will be held behind closed doors. "When the declaration is needed, we will prioritize people's safety while flexibly considering banning spectators," Suga added.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said before the meeting: "If there should be a major dramatic change in the infection situation, we need to revisit this among ourselves, and we may need to consider the option of having no spectators in the venues."

Organizers have waited until the last minute to decide on domestic spectators as "it has been difficult to judge the situation" as the infection status is changing all the time, Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto told reporters last week.

Shigeru Omi, the government's top medical adviser on COVID-19, proposed to organizers on Friday that holding the Olympics behind closed doors is "desirable" to tame infection risks, claiming it was the least risky way to hold the games.

The remote meeting on Monday was attended by the Tokyo and national governments, Tokyo 2020, and the International Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

At the meeting, IOC president Thomas Bach said that "well above 80%" of athletes who will stay at the Olympic Village will be vaccinated, and "much closer to the 80%" of foreign journalists are expected to be vaccinated.

"We have also made it very clear to all the participants that whether vaccinated or not, that all the rules apply, always, to everybody," Bach added." We will continue to work together with you to ensure these safe and secure games... I can only say, here we go... and we are ready."

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