When COVID-19 took over the world in early 2020, the people in charge of the Tokyo Olympics swore up and down that the Olympics would still happen that July.
They didn’t. And that was just as well.
Instead, smarter heads prevailed and the decision was made to postpone Tokyo 2020 until a year later, in July 2021.
Meanwhile, as late as December 2020, Japan still planned to allow “large scale” numbers of international visitors into the country (without vaccines or quarantines!!?) so that the Summer Olympics could have spectators. By January, 80% of Japan wanted the Olympics to be canceled or at least delayed again. And by the end of that month, Florida’s governor came up with the harebrained idea that the summer Olympics should be moved to the Sunshine State, instead (#rolleyes).
However, Japan only started offering the COVID vaccine in late February, which meant they were at least 2 months behind other countries in keeping their citizens safe from the virus.
So although not confirmed yet, it appears that the decision for the Olympics is now looking like the athletes will be isolated in a “bubble” in the Olympic Village. It appears most will be vaccinated (the IOC says it’s encouraging but not requiring vaccinations for the participants. Bach also says that athletes would only be inoculated after those deemed at high risk had gotten vaccinated, and the process would be per respective national regulations). Overseas spectators will likely be banned, and the number of domestic fans in attendance will be limited.
As quoted in The Guardian, the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee president, Seiko Hashimoto, said, “If the situation is tough and it would make the [Japanese] consumers concerned, that is a situation we need to avoid from happening.” This was said to reporters after online talks with the International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach.
Bach himself also hinted this was the direction they were strongly considering: “We will focus on the essentials,” he said. “That means mainly the competitions. This has to be the clear focus. In this respect we may have to set one or another priority.”
Being more blunt, the Japanese newspaper The Mainichi quoted anonymous government sources who suggested that, “In the current situation it is impossible to bring in foreign spectators.” The Mainichi also said that the Japanese government had begun preparations for hosting the Olympics without foreign spectators.
As per Hashimoto, a final decision on overseas spectators would be made by the end of March and late April regarding domestic spectators.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary