Come anything else, Japan is starting the one-year delayed Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo this late July, no more take-backs. The organizing committee finds itself making some very tough calls to ensure the event goes through without leading to a spike in infections of the annoying COVID-19 global pandemic. Already they have put a ban on local Japanese spectators to gather for the ceremony kicking off the Olympic Torch Relay next week in Fukushima. The toughest call yet is whether or not the country would allow foreign spectators to the Olympic venues. Past Olympic organizers are pleading with the Tokyo committee not to hurry deciding.
As Inquirer.net puts it, the Tokyo Olympics organizers are being asked not to decide too early to ban overseas travellers from spectating at the Games. This was voiced by Sebastian Coe, an organizer of the 2012 London Summer Olympics and currently president of World Athletics, the international governing body of pro and amateur athletics, track and field. Coe issued a statement this past Thursday, March 18, in response to a proposal by the Tokyo committee and Japanese government not to allow fans from other countries into Japan to watch the Olympics mere months from now.
Speaking in a virtual conference of World Athletics, Coe remarked, “Of course I’d like the stadiums to have people in.” Stressing that Japan needs to make a balanced decision between ensuring the safety of athletes, officials, staff and local fans from catching COVID, and the need to make the Olympics a truly global spectacle where the world can participate, Coe hoped that their choice will be prudent. “I hope it’s not made too early because I see no reason why decisions need to be force-fed when the world is changing,” he adds. “Vaccines are being rolled out and I think that that is a decision that doesn’t necessarily need to be made at this moment.”
The Tokyo Olympics Torch Relay will start at Fukushima this coming March 25, passing first through all major areas affected by the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, before making rounds of the rest of Japan and ending at National Stadium, Tokyo for the Games’ opening ceremony. Organizers have stressed their top priority for public safety, asking Japanese spectators to stay away from the torch relay runners and watch on TV instead. Some Olympic test events were also moved from April to May, while a final decision on spectators is expected to be made next month.
Sebastian Coe was organizing committee chairman of the 2012 London Olympics, hailed as the one of most-attended Games on record. “Is it better to have people in a stadium when you have live sport?” He rhetorically asks. “Yes, it is.”
Image from GMA News