Japan’s Top Medical Adviser Calls for No Fans at Tokyo Olympics

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Japan’s Top Medical Adviser Calls for No Fans at Tokyo Olympics

With the Tokyo Olympics just over a month away, a top medical adviser has officially recommended that no fans are allowed inside venues to watch events at the Games in Tokyo. In March, the organizers of the Games confirmed there would be no overseas fans allowed to enter Japan, including family and close friends, and an official decision is expected next week on whether domestic fans will be allowed.

According to a report from the AP, the government wants to allow up to 10,000 spectators at venues (depending on the size of the venue and whether it is indoors or outdoors), but Dr. Shigeru Omi, a former World Health Organization official who now works in an official capacity with the Japanese government, submitted a report that would recommend completely closing the doors to anyone not competing or working in an official capacity.

“We believe the risks of infections inside venues would be lowest by holding the event with no fans,” his report said, according to the AP.

“We believe it would be most desirable not to have fans inside venues,” Omi said at a Friday news conference, per the AP. “Regardless of holding the Olympics or not, Japan has continuing risks of a resurgence of the infections that puts pressure on the medical systems.”

The Japanese public has regularly expressed support for the Olympics to be cancelled, in hopes of avoiding another COVID surge, but the IOC and local officials have refused to consider such options. Support for holding the Games has risen slightly in recent weeks as the virus has abated slightly and Japan’s vaccination rate, while still behind many countries, is improving.

Local organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said to expect a final decision on fans by Monday, with the IOC, the International Paralympic Committee and local and national governments all involved in the decision-making process. Japan has allowed half-full stadiums for baseball and soccer, but if fans were to be allowed in Tokyo, Omi has made recommendations for stricter protocols would be used to make sure spectators did not congregate outside the venues and ensure safety.

“Dr. Omi has also mentioned that the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are very special,” Hashimoto said, according to the AP. “Therefore Dr. Omi has mentioned that we need to be even more stringent than the other sports events. So we need to look at stricter rules. There is this risk of people who come to the games, and after watching they stop by bars and restaurants before going home. So it is recommended that we urge people to go straight home after watching the games.”

Read the original report on the Tokyo Olympics potentially not allowing fans from the AP.