The 2021 Tokyo Olympics has officially announced that domestic spectators will be allowed entry into the events. A year after 2020 Olympics was abruptly cancelled at the outset of coronavirus and just weeks into Japan’s recovery from its startling fourth wave of cases, hopeful spectators have remained dubious of being able to attend in the live audience.
Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the Tokyo Games, said that the International Olympic Committee has set forth an allowance for up to 50 percent of the venue’s capacity which caps off at 10,000 attendees. Despite this nod of relief for fans, this international event — which is scheduled to run from July 23 through August 8 — is still being eagle-eyed by Japan’s top health experts and citizens for its potential to become a superspreader host as it welcomes athletes and staff from across the globe. A recent poll found that more than 80% of Japanese oppose hosting the virus-postponed Olympics this year as a fourth wave of cases hit the nation. Last month, the Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association, an organization of about 6,000 primary care doctors in Tokyo, launched a petition which has amassed over 429,000 signatures that join the mounting calls for the cancellation of the games. The nation’s coronavirus advisor, Shigeru Omi, also remains wary of the increased traffic to and fro the hotly-anticipated event. In a report along with 25 health experts, Omi warned the government and organizers of the risk that fans in the stadium posed. “We believe it would be most desirable not to have fans inside venues,” Omi said in a press conference prior to the Games’ decision.
Moreover, Olympic officials are implementing measures to safeguard the health of the approximate 11,500 athletes traveling to Japan. Competitors will be tested twice ahead of their flights and again upon their arrival. In tandem with their daily testing, a smartphone app will be used to report their daily symptoms and temperature as well as monitor their locations for contact tracing. Last month, the IOC announced that Pfizer and BioNTech are donating coronavirus vaccines to athletes and country delegations although it will not be required. “This donation of the vaccine is another tool in our toolbox of measures to help make the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 safe and secure for all participants, and to show solidarity with our gracious Japanese hosts,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement. Bach continued, “By taking the vaccine, they can send a powerful message that vaccination is not only about personal health, but also about solidarity and consideration of the wellbeing of others in their communities.”