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Tokyo organisers advised to hold Olympics without spectators

Tokyo organisers advised to hold Olympics without spectators
© Reuters
Overseas spectators have already been barred from attending.

Tokyo Olympic Games organisers have been advised to hold the event behind closed doors by the country's top public health official, but are still looking at ways to allow some spectators in.

A final decision on spectators has been promised by the end of the month, with overseas fans told in April to stay away amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Representatives of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee met with Dr Shigeru Omi, the Japanese government's chief Covid-19 adviser, on Friday, and his message to them was clear.

"The recommendations from Dr Omi have indicated that ideally the best way is to hold the Games is without spectators, that was his recommendation, and that the best way to avoid expanding the risk of further infections was to hold the Games without any spectators," Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto said at a briefing.

She said though that he had also made recommendations on how to proceed if organisers pressed ahead with plans to admit spectators, and pointed out that the government does currently allow up to 10,000 fans or 50 per cent capacity at sports events, whichever is lowest.

"From the very beginning the government has demonstrated its policy," she said.

"Based on that standard we would like to make our decision and there is no change in my stance – so 50 per cent, 10,000 spectators, and also stricter conditions for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games are required.

"Based on such a situation we would like to have a thorough discussion to reach a decision.

Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto says her top priority is the safety of the Japanese people and the health of overseas visitors
Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto says her top priority is the safety of the Japanese people and the health of overseas visitors (Yuichi Yamazaki/AP)

"The situation changes minute by minute, and with such changes we need to be prepared to not accept spectators.

"We will endeavour to have people to enjoy the Games on site but if still the circumstances are very challenging, then in that case we may be advised to make a very difficult decision of not welcoming any spectators at the very last minute. But until that very last minute, we will continue doing our best."

The next five-party meeting – involving representatives from Tokyo 2020, the International Olympic and Paralympic Committees, the Tokyo metropolitan government and national government – is due to take place on Monday, Hashimoto said.

She added that one countermeasure might be to urge spectators to go immediately home after attending an event, rather than stop off at a bar or restaurant.

"Protecting the lives of the people of Japan is the highest priority. The health of the people (of Japan) and also the visitors' health – I need to protect them," she said.

"How we can operate the Games to that end is what I always need to think about."

Hashimoto pointed out that less than a third of those originally set to come to Japan from overseas – athletes, officials, sponsors and media – would now be coming.

All Games participants will be subject to strict 'playbooks' governing their movements and behaviour before and after their arrival in Japan.

The state of emergency in Tokyo is due to end on Sunday, Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga said earlier this week.

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A general view of Olympic rings following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in front of the Japan Olympics Museum in Tokyo, Japan March 24, 2020
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States22251764
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia12211750
Great BritainGreat Britain11121235
Today's Olympic highlights header

Tuesday's key events

· Team GB duo Jack Laugher - silver medallist in Rio - and James Heatly take part in the men's 3m springboard semi-final (2am), and will hope to qualify for the final later in the day (7am)

· Two Britons are involved in the women's long jump final, but Abigail Irozuru and Jazmin Sawyers have their work cut out to get a spot on the podium (2.50am)
· Norwegian Karsten Warholm, who broke the world record just last month, goes for gold in the men's 400m hurdles final. USA's Rai Benjamin is expected to be his main challenger (4.20am)
· Great Britain have three representatives in the final of the women's 800m, with Jemma Reekie having perhaps the best chance of a medal (1.25pm)
· A mouth-watering women's 200m final sees Elaine Thompson-Herah go for the prestigious sprint double after claiming the 100m crown. Compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Namibia's Christine Mboma and USA's Gabrielle Thomas are expected to be her main competitors (1.50pm)

· The rescheduled women's skiff 49er FX (4.33am) and men's skiff 49er (5.33am) come to their conclusion, with Team GB involved in both medal races
· Defending champion Giles Scott bids for a second successive gold in the Finn class medal race (6.33am)
· There is another medal chance for Team GB in the mixed Nacra 17 medal race (7.33am)

· Team GB's Joe Fraser takes part in the parallel bars final, kicking off the final day of artistic gymnastics (9am)
· USA superstar Simone Biles, who has been forced to pull out of all of her finals so far, is on the starting list for the beam final as she bids for a fifth Olympic gold (9.50am)

· The men's semi-finals take place, with Mexico taking on Brazil first up (9am)
· The winner of that first semi-final will face either hosts Japan or Spain (2pm)

· Laura Kenny will look to win a third straight Olympic team pursuit gold medal. Team GB take on United States in their heat (7.44am), with the gold medal race later that day (9.26am)
· Laura's husband and fellow Olympic legend Jason Kenny will also look to continue his huge success in the men's team sprint - an event he has won gold in at every Games since 2008. Team GB will first need to get through the men's qualifying (7.58am), with the gold medal race ending the session (9.44am)

· Pat McCormack will be looking to achieve his dream of Olympic gold when he faces Cuba's Roniel Iglesias (11.05am)

> Today's schedule in full
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