TOKYO— Whether it’s sumo, national basketball or baseball, Japanese fans have filled arenas in recent days, leaving Olympians wondering why they would compete in empty grandstands at the Tokyo Games .
Japanese organizers have decided to ban spectators from the venues of the Olympics, which begin this week, in a bid to stem an increase in COVID-19 infections, with the capital in a state of emergency until August 22.
Foreign visitors were earlier banned from attending the delayed Tokyo 2020 Games.
“A state of emergency was declared for Tokyo and on July 9 we saw that the decision was to ban spectators,” Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi said on Monday during a roundtable discussion. on online media. “Obviously, this is a decision that we respect.”
“There was however one sentence which was pleasant that if the situation changed, the situation could be reconsidered,” Dubi said, referring to the organizers’ statement on the decision.
“Whether other sporting events now have fans is a decision for local authorities. We have to respect that, ”Dubi said.
On Friday, the Central League’s 5-4 victory over the Pacific League in the first game of the Japan All-Star baseball series came in front of 8,992 masked fans at the MetLife Dome outside Tokyo.
At the same time, the Grand Sumo Tournament of Nagoya was organized with a crowd in the stands of the Dolphin’s Arena.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) had to reduce the number of officials present at the opening ceremony on Friday to comply with health safety rules.
Some athletes, including the captain of the Japan men’s soccer team, Maya Yoshida, question the decision to ban spectators.
“A lot of taxpayer dollars will be used to organize these Olympics,” Yoshida said recently. “Despite this, people cannot go and watch. So you wonder who the Olympics are for and what they are for. “
Dubi said such questions should be asked of organizers and local authorities.
“We have received questions from a number of athletes who observe the same thing. As far as the IOC is concerned, we respect this decision and respect this rule but you can address this question to the organizing committee or to the local authorities, ”he told Reuters.
Dubi said it was still possible that if the number of coronavirus cases declined, organizers could revisit the ban.
Follow Inquirer Sports’ special coverage of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics here.
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