Olympic neon sign in Tokyo: "Having no audience would mean the least risk of infection"
Jinhee Lee / imago images / NurPhoto
The start of the Summer Olympics is approaching, but it is still unclear whether the competitions will take place in front of an audience.
A panel of medical experts led by Japan's most important corona advisor Shigeru Omi has recommended games in camera.
"Not having an audience would mean the lowest risk of infection" and would therefore be "ideal," said a report to the government and the organizing committee (OK).
A decision will be made on Monday next week at a meeting of the government with the city administration of Tokyo, the OK and the International Olympic and Paralympic Committee, announced Japan’s Olympic organizer Seiko Hashimoto.
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The panel of experts, headed by medical doctor Omi, fears that the number of corona infections, which has recently fallen, could rise again during the games.
The risk, not least due to the Delta variant, is particularly high, as the games take place during the summer holidays and more people would be out and about.
If spectators are allowed to attend the games, the restrictions would have to be handled even more strictly than at present at major events, it said.
The rule decided by the government to allow up to 10,000 spectators at large sports and cultural events such as concerts, as long as 50 percent of the seating capacity is not exceeded, should also be used for the Olympic Games, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga had previously stated.
However, spectators at the Olympics would have to wear masks and not cheer, he said.
This suggests that the government and the Olympics makers are disregarding the experts' recommendation.
The upper limit of foreign visitors to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, including sponsors, media representatives and officials, was reduced to 53,000 on Friday - this number does not include around 15,000 athletes.
Originally, 177,000 were planned.
Tokyo begins vaccination of
The Summer Olympics begin on July 23.
The organizers and the Japanese government are sticking to the date, although many Japanese are rejecting the major sporting event in the middle of the corona pandemic.
So far, only six percent of the 125 million people in Japan are fully vaccinated.
Recently, however, the vaccination campaign has gained significant momentum.
Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga had recently survived a vote of no confidence by the opposition. With a majority of MPs from his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its smaller coalition partner Komeito, the relevant lower house of parliament voted against the opposition on Tuesday. Suga criticizes this for his handling of the pandemic and his unwavering adherence to the Olympic Games.
Tokyo, meanwhile, began vaccinating thousands of Summer Olympics volunteers and staff on Friday.
Everyone who will have close contact with the arriving athletes from all over the world should get a vaccination.
Employees in the Olympic Village, airport employees, representatives of the Olympic and Paralympic committees and some of the 70,000 volunteers are eligible to vaccinate.
The International Olympic Committee has provided a total of 40,000 vaccine doses.
ngo / dpa / sid