Tokyo Olympic organizers to meet March 20 on fate of overseas spectators
Publish- March 18, 2021, 08:38 PM
Kyodo/UNB - Kyodo/UNB
Update- March 18, 2021, 09:29 PM
The organizers of this summer's Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will hold an online meeting on Saturday and most likely agree that overseas spectators will not be allowed to attend the games amid the coronavirus pandemic, officials familiar with the schedule said Thursday.
The meeting will be attended by the heads of the International Olympic Committee and four other bodies responsible for the planning of the coronavirus-postponed games.
The Japanese government has already decided that welcoming spectators from abroad is not possible, given public concern over the spread of the virus and the emergence of more contagious variants in many countries, officials with knowledge of the planning said earlier.
IOC President Thomas Bach told a press conference last week that Japan is in charge of making the call on the issue of overseas spectators, and his organization will "respect and accept this decision."
The upcoming virtual meeting is expected to be attended also by Seiko Hashimoto, head of the Japanese organizing committee, International Paralympic Committee chief Andrew Parsons, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and Japan's Olympic minister Tamayo Marukawa.
With the opening of the Tokyo Olympics four months away, deciding on whether to admit overseas spectators has been one of the biggest headaches for the organizers, while they have been struggling with tepid public support for the games amid persistent worries about whether they can sufficiently ensure the safety of participants and residents in Japan.
The Tokyo Games organizing committee has not disclosed the total number of tickets to be sold, but some officials have said it was estimated to be over 9 million before the games were rescheduled one year ago. About 1 million tickets are believed to have already been sold abroad.
The five organizing bodies agreed on March 3 to make the final decision on spectators in two phases. They will decide whether to admit overseas fans by the end of March before determining the maximum capacity of venues in April.
Hashimoto, who took the reins of the organizing body in February, has said the issue of overseas spectators should be decided before the nationwide Olympic torch relay begins in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima on March 25.
Bach has also said the organizers have agreed to make a final decision as soon as possible, considering the time required for foreign visitors to finalize their itinerary should they be allowed to attend the games.