Kawasaki City Institute for Public Health Director General Nobuhiko Okabe speaks during a press conference after a roundtable on COVID-19 countermeasures at Tokyo 2020 Games in Tokyo, Friday, June 11, 2021. A group of experts participated in a third roundtable on COVID-19 countermeasures proposed for audience-related infection control. (Franck Robichon/Pool Photo via AP)

Tokyo Olympics still undecided on fans — or no fans at all

Fans from abroad already banned from what is shaping up to be a largely made-for-television event

The question of allowing any fans into Tokyo Olympic venues is still being debated with a decision unlikely to be announced before the end of the month.

This would be just a few weeks before the Olympics are to open on July 23. Fans from abroad have already been banned in what is shaping up as a largely made-for-television Olympics.

Tokyo and several prefectures are under a state of emergency until June 20. Infections have slowed recently, but the spread of variants is still a concern that could put pressure on already stressed medical facilities.

Dr. Nobuhiko Okabe, director general of the Kawasaki City Institute for Public Health, suggested on Friday he would lean toward few fans. He spoke on a panel put together by the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee.

“Thinking in a different way, I think it’s an option to suggest to people to enjoy the games on TV — like teleworking,” he said. “We could suggest a different way of enjoying the games.”

Okabe said it was not just a matter of fans in the venues, but what they do after leaving — heading to bars or restaurants.

“We don’t want people to move much,” he said. “That’s our wish as we think about anti-virus measures.”

Organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto originally said she would announce a decision in April about local fans but has repeatedly postponed it.

Ticket sales were to account for $800 million in income for the organizing committee. Much of that will be lost and has to be made up by Japanese government entities.

Japan is officially spending $15.4 billion to run the Olympics, though government audits suggest the figure is much higher. All but $6.7 billion is public money.

The Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee derives almost 75% of its income from selling broadcast rights, which drives the games and the urgency to hold it during a pandemic.

Japan’s JiJi Press reported Friday, without citing sources, that Dr. Shigeru Omi would issue a report next week that warns about the risks of having fans. He is a former World Health Organization regional director and a head of a government task force on the virus.

Speaking in a parliamentary session last week, he said “it is crucial that we must not let the Olympics trigger a flow of people.”

Hashimoto warned there could be penalties for anyone who breaks strict rules around the Tokyo Games. She did not say what they would be and said this was still under discussion.

The protocol for anyone entering Japan for the Olympics requires frequent testing, limited movement, and monitoring by GPS on smartphones.

This includes everyone from athletes to journalists to staff and other officials working the games.

About 11,000 athletes will attend the Olympics with 4,400 for the Paralympics. Tens of thousands of others will also enter Japan for both events. Organizers say the total figure for both events — athletes included — is about 93,000.

Organizers say that’s about half of the original total expected of 180,000.

“In order to get the citizens of Japan to feel secure there are rigid rules that we need to lay out or else,” Hashimoto said. “We’d like to avoid having to penalize people but we do need to take thorough measures.”

—Stephen Wade, The Associated Press

RELATED: Physician warns Tokyo Olympics could spread variants

Olympics

Just Posted

Pictured here are Stettler-based band The Jazz Guys, who are launching this season’s Entertainment in the Park series at West Stettler Park on June 24th. photo submitted
Stettler’s The Jazz Guys to launch ‘Entertainment in the Park’ season June 23rd

This year’s festivities will consist of the following 10 free concerts

Alberta is now below 3,000 active cases of COVID-19, as the province reported 2,639 Wednesday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer below 100 active COVID-19 cases for first time since March

69.7 per cent of Albertans 12 and over have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

Premier Jason Kenney says the provincial government is doing everything it can to encourage Albertans to get vaccinated. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Travel prizes added to Alberta’s vaccine lottery

More than 40 travel rewards available for those who are fully vaccinated

Stettler town hall
Town approves Canada Day fireworks show, using phase two health restrictions

The funding for the fireworks show has already been allocated

Castor Evangelical Missionary Church Pastor Brent Siemens, celebrating five years in Castor, reflects on the journey that brought him to the community. Kevin J. Sabo photo
Castor pastor celebrates five years of serving the community

Brent Siemens is the pastor of Castor’s Evangelical Missionary Church

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the two patients, a man and a woman likely acquired the virus in the hospital

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., center left, reaches over to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., joined by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., center, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus as they celebrate the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act that creates a new federal holiday to commemorate June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people after the Civil War, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 17, 2021. It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden to sign bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

New American stat marks the nation’s end of slavery

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the ‘Villa la Grange’ in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Biden says meeting with Putin not a ‘kumbaya moment’

But U.S. president asserted Russian leader is interested in improved relations, averting a Cold War

Most Read