Report: Fans Barred but Elites, Politicians, VIPs to Attend Tokyo Games Opening Ceremony

HOKUTO, JAPAN - JUNE 26: A torch bearer has his photo taken during the Tokyo Olympic Games Torch Relay on June 26, 2021 in Hokuto, Japan. As the Olympic torch relay makes its way around Japan, much of the original route has been altered or cancelled completely as prefectural authorities …
Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty

Coronavirus fears could see sports fans banned from the opening ceremonies of the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics later this month while VIPs, politicians, and elite Games officials will still be able to attend, a Japanese newspaper reported.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) representatives, foreign dignitaries, sponsors and others connected to the Games will all enter the 68,000-seat National Stadium and take their place to watch the July 23 pomp and ceremony, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported late on Monday.

The report, which cited several unnamed government sources, said organisers are working to whittle down the expected 10,000 “Olympic family” members to a level the Japanese public would find acceptable.

First Lady Jill Biden is already tipped to visit Japan for the Tokyo Olympics on a solo trip in place of President Joe Biden, as Breitbart News reported, and would conceivably fall into the “foreign dignatories” category.

AFP reports organisers last month set a limit of 10,000 domestic fans, or half of each venue’s capacity. Overseas fans have already been barred.

But a rise in infections has forced a rethink, with Games president Seiko Hashimoto warning last week that a closed-door Olympics remains an option.

Japan’s coronavirus outbreak has not been as severe as in some countries, with around 14,800 deaths, but experts say another wave could stretch medical services as the Olympics begin.

The government is this week expected to extend anti-virus measures around Tokyo with a decision on Olympic fans to follow, even as the broad public mood in Japan remains steadfastly against the event going ahead at all.

Organisers have already unveiled a raft of tough new rules for those fortunate enough to secure a ticket, warning alcohol, hugs, cheers, and autographs have all been banned. Polite clapping is allowed but only under strict supervision, as Breitbart News reported.

Asking athletes for autographs or “expressing verbal support” is also illegal in Tokyo, as is waving a towel or “any form of cheering that could create a crowd.”

AFP contributed to this story

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