Japan plan 10,000-fans cap ahead of Games


Japan to set 10000 capacity cap Image: Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee

Japan is planning to set a limit of 10,000 fans at sports events ahead of the Olympics, a Cabinet Minister said on Wednesday, as organizers weigh the pros and cons of how many domestic spectators can attend the Games – the greatest sporting show on the planet – all set to begin on July 23rd, 2021.

The decision on Olympic spectators is expected only after the virus emergency in Tokyo ends on June 20th and the Government confirms what restrictions will replace it.

‘NDTV’ stated that the proposed measure would come into force after a COVID-19 state of emergency in Tokyo and other parts of Japan ends on June 20th, and would last until the end of August, informed Yasutoshi Nishimura, the Minister in charge of Virus Measures.

It would limit spectators to 50 percent of a venue’s capacity or 10,000 people, whichever is smaller, he informed. The plan is expected to become official later this week.

The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – the most spectacular sporting showpiece on earth – will be celebrated from July 23rd to August 8th, 2021.

The 2020 Summer Olympics, officially the Games of the XXXII Olympiad, and also known as Tokyo 2020, is an upcoming international multisport event to be held in Tokyo, Japan.

‘NDTV’ further quoted Nishimura as telling a Government advisory panel, which endorsed the plan, “It is important that we maintain thorough anti-infection measures to prevent a rebound in cases, especially as we foresee a spread of the Delta variant.”

The move could set the boundaries for a decision by Olympic organizers on how many domestic fans – if any – can attend Games events when Tokyo 2020 kicks off on July 23rd. Overseas spectators have already been banned as the virulent virus is still causing havoc in few countries around the globe with Japan too feeling the COVID heat lately.

Japan has seen a comparatively small virus outbreak, with slightly more than 14,000 deaths despite avoiding harsh lockdowns.

But its vaccination program has moved slower than many other developed nations, with just over five percent of the population fully inoculated so far.

Recent reports have said “quasi-emergency” measures could be introduced, including curbs on the sale of alcohol or limited opening hours for bars and restaurants.

Experts and officials have expressed concerns that huge crowds attending the virus-postponed Games could play a role in accelerating the spread of coronavirus after the emergency measures end.

Takaji Wakita, Head of the Advisory Panel, warned of possible surges of infection in the near future as people start to go out more in some regions, including Tokyo.

Stated a concerned Wakita before newsmen on Wednesday after the panel met, “When the Government lifts the state of emergency, it’s important that restrictions are lifted gradually.”

Under the current state of emergency, spectators are capped at 5,000 people or 50 percent of a venue’s capacity, whichever is smaller.

‘Kyodo News’ stated that Okinawa prefecture in Japan will remain under restrictions until mid-July. Apart from Tokyo, the other eight prefectures set to exit the state of emergency are Hokkaido, Aichi, Kyoto, Osaka, Hyogo, Okayama, Hiroshima, and Fukuoka.

All except Okayama and Hiroshima will shift to a quasi-state of emergency until July 11th. Okinawa will also remain under a state of emergency until July 11th, because its hospitals continue to be strained by COVID-19 patients.

The move comes as infections have declined nationwide, with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga rushing to set the stage for a “safe and secure” Tokyo Olympics to start from July 23rd and Paralympics to commence from August 24th.

The new dates for the Paralympic Games are from August 24th until September 5th, 2021.

The 2020 Summer Paralympics are an upcoming major international multisport event for athletes with disabilities governed by the International Paralympic Committee. Both the sporting spectacles got postponed last year as coronavirus bared its fangs on the world in March 2020.

Suga told reporters, “While it’s true that infections are trending down nationwide, it’s also true that the pace has slowed. We will continue to move forward with vaccinations and take steps to prevent infections from spreading.”

‘Kyodo News’ further stated that a team of researchers expressed concern about “a rebound” in infections in the future even though areas where infections had risen have seen numbers fall, as the speed of the decline has slowed in some places with more people going out.

The study by researchers at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Kyoto University and Tohoku University was based on the assumption that people would leave home more often after the current emergency ends on June 20th, causing coronavirus cases to rise again.

If Tokyo saw 1,000 or more new infections per day, then a return to a state of emergency would be warranted, they said.

According to their calculations, even if the Delta variant – first detected in India – has little impact and only around 10 percent more people are out and about, the number of infections would reach that threshold between late July and early August.

If the Delta variant, which is thought to be 1.8 times more transmissible than the original strain of the coronavirus, has a large impact, a state of emergency could become necessary again in early to mid-July.

A return to restrictions could be avoided under the most optimistic scenario in which the Delta variant has no impact and the increase in people leaving home remains below 15 percent, the researchers maintained.

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