Up to 10,000 domestic spectators will be allowed in Tokyo 2020 venues, Olympics organizers said on Monday, cutting against the recommendation of medical experts who said holding the event without fans was the safest option.
The national stadium would have held 68,000 fans but now it will be only a slice of that. However, TV deals with prime- time coverage, will ensure the Games are shown in every nook and corner of the world.
The announcement simply highlights Japan’s push on with the Games and recover the multi-billion-dollar spectacle amid public protest and strong concern about a resurrection of the virus. The decision was definitely not a shock after some recent comments by organizers. But talking loudly will likely be reduced as shouting will be prohibited. Organizers also said masks would be mandatory, and spectators are requested to travel directly to venues. Spectators from overseas were already out of the picture since April.
The possible reason behind this desperate push to bring spectators to the games can simply be explained by numbers. Ticket revenues are likely to be reduced by more than half from an earlier expected 90 billion yen ($817.14 million), Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto told a briefing. Initially, organizers sold some 4.48 million tickets and the government had expected a big gain for tourism. But 840,000 tickets have since been refunded, and the limits mean another decrease, bringing the total number down to 2.72 million tickets, Muto said.
Before the meeting, IOC President Thomas Bach said the vaccination rate for athletes and officials residing in the Olympic village was now “well above 80%”, exceeding the IOC’s initial expectations.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said he would not rule out holding the Olympics without spectators if the capital was under a state of emergency for COVID-19. Only time will tell if there will be any implications to this decision as Tokyo continues to scramble to recover from the cost of hosting the Olympics.