Olympic organizers said on Monday that up to 10,000 domestic spectators will be allowed at Tokyo 2020 venues, a decision that goes against medical experts’ advice that holding the event without supporters is the least harmful option.
The announcement puts an end to months of suspense and demonstrates Japan’s determination to continue with the Games and save the multibillion-dollar spectacular despite public outcry and fears of a resurgence of illnesses.
The restriction for the Games, which start on July 23, “will be set at 50% of venue capacity, up to a maximum of 10,000 persons,” according to organizers.
However, applauding for a win or a brave underdog will most likely be muted because yelling will be disallowed. Organizers also stated that masks would be necessary, and that spectators should travel directly to locations and return home.
According to organizers, numbers could be further decreased after July 12 depending on if “quasi emergency” COVID-19 procedures, which were set to expire the day before, are extended or any other anti-infection measures in place at the time.
However, television partnerships, such as one with NBCUniversal for 17 nights of primetime coverage in the United States, will ensure that the Games be broadcast worldwide.
According to Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto, organizers are still debating whether or not to allow alcohol to be served in venues. Despite the concerns of experts, Hashimoto had earlier stated that she was considering letting up to 10,000 fans.
On Friday, some of the country’s leading health experts agreed that prohibiting spectators would be the safest option.