The organisers of the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics have set a date as to when it will be confirmed whether spectators can attend the games, following months of speculation.
25 March has been given as the most likely date for the announcement, although International Olympic Committee (IOC) President, Thomas Bach, has acknowledged that a decision may be made in April or May at the latest.
Due to issues regarding ticketing, immigration and general logistics, Bach stated that a confirmation date needed to be set, saying: “We would like to wait to the very last moment, but this is not possible.”
Meanwhile, organising committee President, Seiko Hashimoto – who recently took over the position following Yoshiro Mori’s resignation after making derogatory remarks about women – joined Bach in agreeing that organisers needed to ‘set the direction’ close to the date of 25 March.
Additionally, Christophe Dubi, the Executive Director of the Olympic Games, described late April as being ‘the right time’ to announce the decision on international spectators.
Ultimately, however, according to John Coates, Vice President of the IOC, the Japanese government has the final say on the matter.
“It’s governments that decide these things on what’s safe and, a bit later, probably March, April,” the Vice President remarked.
He also added that a decision was needed ‘on what venue capacity we are going to have,” and stated that the Athletes village must be ‘the safest place in Tokyo.’
With regards to safety measures, it has been confirmed that athletes are being encouraged to pursue COVID-19 vaccinations ahead of the games, to minimise the risk posed to themselves and others.
Coates has confirmed that athletes from Australia will most likely be fully vaccinated by June, whilst Japan’s Olympics Minister, Tamayo Marukawa, commented: “We are putting together a number of comprehensive measures to realise a safe and secure event without needing vaccinations to be a prerequisite.”
A range of safety measures have already been drafted by Japanese authorities, including encouraging any spectators who attend to refrain from singing and chanting and instead to show their support via clapping.
Japanese viewers have also been advised to watch the Olympic torch relay from their homes instead of gathering at the route, with a warning issued that the event could be suspended if too many crowds congregate at the roadsides in violation of social distancing measures.
The upcoming games are set to be the one of the most expensive in the history of the event, having incurred roughly $1.9 billion in debts due to stricter safety measures and postponements.
Uncertainty surrounding the games promoted several domestic sponsors to raise concerns at extending their respective partnerships – collectively the companies have contributed $3 million in support for the tournament so far – with many delaying advertising and marketing campaigns last month.