According to Olympic organizers, there will be no spectators cheering on the world’s best athletes when they compete in Tokyo-area venues. The Games will begin in less than two weeks. The news of the spectator ban has elicited mixed reactions both at home and abroad.
The Japanese government declared a new coronavirus state of emergency for the capital just before the organizers made their decision. It starts on Monday and lasts until the end of the Games.
Spectators were not permitted at events in Tokyo and the neighboring prefectures of Chiba, Saitama, and Kanagawa.
However, only a limited number of fans will be permitted in four prefectures, including Fukushima.
On Thursday, reporters questioned Tokyo’s governor about why the Games were being held at all, given the pandemic.
“People around the world have had differing opinions throughout the pandemic,” Koike Yuriko responded. I believe that the Olympics will provide an opportunity to change the situation by utilizing the power of sports to motivate people.”
Chiba Prefecture will host taekwondo, wrestling, fencing, and surfing competitions with no spectators.
Governor Kumagai Toshihito stated that he understands why the move is required. “As a host prefecture, we will make every effort to gain public support by taking thorough preventive measures,” he said.
Many Japanese athletes had hoped to capitalize on the excitement of a packed stadium, but they say they are aware that fans will be cheering from home.
“I am not in a position to comment on the decision,” says badminton player Momota Kento, “but I will do everything I can to live up to the responsibilities that have been entrusted to me.”
Athletes from other countries are also digesting the news. One Australian tennis player has decided to withdraw. “The thought of playing in front of empty stadiums just doesn’t sit right with me,” Nicholas Kyrgios wrote to fans.
Tickets were in short supply. Fukumoto Reiko is one of the lucky fans who got tickets to the women’s soccer final. She won’t be able to use them any longer. Fukumoto expressed her dissatisfaction, saying, “No one did anything wrong.” All I can do is express my condolences for the situation.”
In the meantime, the torch relay has begun in Tokyo. However, the Olympic flame will not travel on the majority of the routes. Runners taking part in the ceremonial event light the flame in the absence of spectators.