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Tokyo reports fewer than 200 new COVID-19 cases for first time since November

Credit: Inside The Games

By Ali Iveson

Monday, 22 February 2021

Tokyo has reported fewer than 200 new COVID-19 cases in a day for the first time in almost three months. 

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government said that 178 people had tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hours, out of 5,197 tests.

It is an indication that authorities in the Japanese capital are starting to have success in their attempts to contain the spread of the virus, although nationally the seven-day average of daily deaths remains above 70.

November 24 was the last time Tokyo - which remains under a state of emergency - reported fewer than 200 new COVID-19 cases in a day.

While the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 remain adamant the Games will go ahead as planned in the Japanese capital this year, an upturn in the health situation increases the likelihood of that happening.

Crucially, it may also lead to increased public support for the Olympics and Paralympics.

Recent polls have suggested the majority of Japanese people believe the event should either be postponed again or cancelled.

The rollout of a vaccination programme is another welcome development for Tokyo 2020, but Japan's Vaccine Minister Taro Kono yesterday warned that inoculation of the elderly would only start "little by little" because of a shortage of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine until May.

That vaccine - which needs to be stored in an ultra-cold freezer - was approved for use in Japan earlier this month, and the country has started to vaccinate healthcare workers.

The Olympic Opening Ceremony is scheduled for July 23, and a decision on whether spectators will be able to attend events is yet to be taken.

An athletes' playbook written by organisers spells out how they can be expected to be tested for COVID-19 at least every four days, must wear a face covering when not competing, eating or training, will be expected not to to shout or sing and also must arrive in Tokyo no earlier than five days before their event and depart a maximum of two days after.

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Tokyo Olympics weigh ban on overseas spectators over COVID fears

The organizing committee for the Tokyo Olympics is considering barring international spectators from attending the games to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Nikkei has learned.

With less than five months before the games are to start, the rise of new coronavirus variants around the world has become a concern for organizers who are trying to hold a "safe and secure" Olympics.

Stakeholders for the games, including Japan's Olympics minister Tamayo Marukawa, chief organizer Seiko Hashimoto, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and IOC President Thomas Bach, agreed at a Wednesday meeting to make a final call on overseas spectators by the end of this month.

Up to 1 million spectators were originally expected to attend the Tokyo Games, which were postponed last year because of the pandemic. Visitors from countries and regions with a small number of COVID cases may still be allowed to enter Japan during the games.

Organizers also plan to decide on the maximum number of spectators at each venue next month. The capacity limits will abide by the Japanese government's guidelines regarding large events.

"We are doing everything to ensure the safety of the games for all participants," Bach told reporters on Wednesday. "But again, also for the Japanese people and for the population of Tokyo in particular."

Marukawa said the spread of new virus variants was hard to predict. "Given the extremely difficult situation we are in, I said [at the meeting] that we need to carefully weigh our options," she said.

Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday that the government was "not considering" barring spectators from abroad.

Organizers plan to first make a decision regarding overseas spectators to shore up public support for the Tokyo Games. Many in Japan worry that an influx of travelers from abroad could accelerate the virus' spread and overwhelm medical facilities in the country.

In terms of the number of spectators allowed, Tokyo and other areas under Japan's coronavirus state of emergency currently cap attendees of sports games at 5,000 or 50% of maximum capacity, whichever is smaller. The 50% ceiling is expected to remain in effect in greater Tokyo until at least the end of next month.

"We can't give special treatment to the Olympics," a government official said. "The decision will depend on the restrictions in effect at the time."

On Wednesday, the Asia editor of British newspaper The Times became the latest to call for the games to be canceled.

"If far smaller and shorter festivals are to be sacrificed in the interests of global public health, it seems obvious that such a massive event, spread over four weeks in the biggest city in the world, should also be cancelled," wrote Tokyo-based Richard Lloyd Parry, citing the cancellation of the Glastonbury music festival.

Date:March 3, 2021

News source: Nikkei Asia

Link to this article:https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Tokyo-2020-Olympics/Tokyo-Olympics-weigh-ban-on-overseas-spectators-over-COVID-fears

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yup, this was coming.  Entirely predictable.  Once the Johnson & Johnson vaccine gets going full swing, start poking the Olympic athletes.  Domestic Japanese fans is a bonus if they can swing that.  It will be an undertaking to get the olympic athletes and staff poked, but, what seemed impossible now is seeming more probable if things are done aggressively and quickly, this can get done.  

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Japan to keep foreign spectators away from Tokyo Olympics, sources say

Japan has decided to stage this summer’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics without overseas spectators due to public concern about COVID-19, two government sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.

The Olympics, postponed by a year because of the pandemic, are scheduled for July 23 to Aug. 8 and the Paralympics from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said a decision on spectators would be made by the end of March.

The government has concluded that welcoming fans from abroad would not be possible given public concern about the coronavirus and the detection of more contagious variants in many countries, the people said, declining to be identified because the information is not public.

Kyodo News, which reported the decision on Tuesday, said the opening ceremony of the torch relay on March 25 would also take place without spectators.

“The organising committee has decided it is essential to hold the ceremony in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima behind closed doors, only permitting participants and invitees to take part in the event, to avoid large crowds forming amid the pandemic,” Kyodo said, quoting the officials.

The Tokyo organising committee said a decision would be made based on “factors including the state of infections in Japan and other countries, possible epidemic-prevention measures, and expert scientific advice.”

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto has said she wants a decision made on before the start of the torch relay on whether to allow overseas spectators.

‘TRADE-OFF’

Sebastian Coe, the man behind the 2012 London Olympics which enjoyed sell-out crowds, and now President of World Athletics, said the goal has always been to ensure “the best possible games for the athletes and having full stadiums of passionate people”, preferably with a “good global presence”.

“With all the work being done around vaccinations and the huge sacrifices large parts of the world have made over the last year, I would hope that fans (international and domestic) will be able to attend (the Tokyo Olympics), of course it would be better,” he told Reuters.

“However, if local communities are concerned, then athletes will accept that and it is a trade-off they are prepared for.”

Figures released in December had projected ticket sales would contribute $800 million for the Tokyo organising committee, or about 12% of its budget. Local ticket sales have typically accounted for 70-80% of ticket sales at past Olympics.

In the last Olympic Games, the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, local fans accounted for 80% of all ticket sales, with international fans buying 20%.

Most Japanese people do not want international visitors to attend the Games amid fears that a large influx could spark a resurgence of coronavirus infections, a Yomiuri newspaper poll showed this week.

The survey showed 77% of respondents were against allowing foreign fans to attend, versus 18% in favour.

Some 48% said they were against allowing any spectators into venues and 45% were in favour.

While coronavirus infection numbers have been relatively low in Japan compared with the United States and many European countries, the country has been hit hard by the third wave of the pandemic and Tokyo remains under a state of emergency.

Japan has recorded more than 441,200 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic and more than 8,300 deaths.

Date:March 9,2021

News source:Reuters

Link to this article:https://www.reuters.com/article/us-olympics-2020-spectators-idUSKBN2B11FQ

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It's sad that the 'normal' foreign spectators are likely to be banned and the foreign spectators from sponsors, media, IOC, NOCs etc will be welcome. 

How many foreign spectaros exactly normally are visiting the Olympics? There are 1 million tickets available for overseas visitors. It's lilely visitors have more tickets per person, so maybe around 150,000 to 200,000? Except the sponsor guests etc.

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Japan to exclude overseas spectators from Tokyo Olympics
Decision on domestic viewers expected to be made separately in April

 

Organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics on Saturday agreed to hold the games without overseas spectators in an effort to prevent COVID-19 infections.

The "unavoidable decision" was initiated by Japanese government officials, who informed the International Olympic and Paralympic Committees at a Saturday meeting. Foreign arrivals this summer will be limited to athletes and support staff, games officials, accredited media, and sponsors with operational roles at the games.

"The parties on the Japanese side concluded that no free entry from overseas may be granted this summer," Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto told reporters after the meeting. "This decision is to give clarity to people so they can still adjust their travel plans at this stage," she added.

Tickets purchased overseas -- about 600,000 for the Olympics and 300,000 for the Paralympics -- will be reimbursed. But hotels and flights separately booked by spectators will be out of scope for reimbursement.

The decision came a day before Japan was due to lift the state of emergency in the Tokyo area. National and city government officials met virtually with Tokyo 2020 organizers, IOC President Thomas Bach and IPC President Andrew Parsons.

Organizers emphasized the decision came out of respect for the people in the host country. "Our first priority remains the safety of all participants of the Olympic games and of course the Japanese people," said Bach. "That means we will have to make difficult decisions, which may need sacrifices from everybody."

The absence of foreign spectators will be a blow to Japan, which has invested more than $12 billion into hosting the Olympics. Tokyo organizers had sold 900,000 tickets overseas and 3.6 million in Japan for the games. In the latest budget report, Tokyo 2020 estimated its ticket revenue would be 90 billion yen ($830 million). Overseas ticket sales usually accounted for at least 10% of total ticket sales in past games, thus 10 billion yen of revenue is expected to be lost due to the decision.

Japan's borders have been closed to nonresident foreigners since Jan. 7, when Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a second state of emergency following a winter spike of COVID-19 infections. While Japan has created a special entry track for athletes, who need only International Olympic Committee accreditation to enter the host country, spectators entering on tourist visas are another matter.

"We could have waited until the very last moment to decide, but for the spectators for the 2020 games, they have to secure accommodation, flights and so forth. So we decided it would cause a lot of inconvenience for them," said Hashimoto.

It remains unclear whether organizers can restrict the number of spectators at the venue. Japan currently restricts the number of spectators to 5,000 at large events -- less than 10% of the Tokyo Olympic Stadium's 68,000-seat capacity.

Organizers said the final decision on domestic spectators will come in April. If restrictions are set, Tokyo 2020's revenue will be further reduced. This could mean a further investment of taxpayer funding if the Tokyo Metropolitan Government -- or the national government, if necessary -- has to cover the organizing committee's budget deficit.

Date:20 March,2021

News source:Nikkei Asia

Link to this article:https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Tokyo-2020-Olympics/Japan-to-exclude-overseas-spectators-from-Tokyo-Olympics

 

 

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Just pull the plug entirely. The recent indoor European athletics champs in Poland produced more than 50 corona cases, the fencing World Cup in Budapest another 30. And both events claimed to have athletes bubbles.

If they couldn’t manage, how will a much larger Olympics deal with this? And don’t tell me every participant and official will be vaccinated by then...

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1 hour ago, StefanMUC said:

Just pull the plug entirely. The recent indoor European athletics champs in Poland produced more than 50 corona cases, the fencing World Cup in Budapest another 30. And both events claimed to have athletes bubbles.

If they couldn’t manage, how will a much larger Olympics deal with this? And don’t tell me every participant and official will be vaccinated by then...

So the Japanese organizers should pull the plug because someone else did a **** job of managing their event?  Sports leagues and organizations have managed to do this without dozens of cases.  Yes, it's a near impossible task to do for an event on the scale of the Olympics, but can we please stop over-reacting as if the only solution is to cancel the Olympics?

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Not surprised, but still kind of sad. And I doubt this will help in any way given the virus is very extended in Japan as well. I honestly just want this to be put out of its misery, its pathetic at this point and most of the japanese population agrees with this. Its what happens when you let a comittee of 70-80 year old boomers in charge of decisions.

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7 hours ago, StefanMUC said:

Just pull the plug entirely. The recent indoor European athletics champs in Poland produced more than 50 corona cases, the fencing World Cup in Budapest another 30. And both events claimed to have athletes bubbles.

If they couldn’t manage, how will a much larger Olympics deal with this? And don’t tell me every participant and official will be vaccinated by then...

As for Budapest, for the last three days the Hungarian capital has been hosting the European Wrestling Olympic Qualification Tournament.  288 wrestlers across 35 European countries are competing.  If any sport is going to risk the spread of Covid-19, its hard to think of one more likely to do so than wrestling.  Have we heard yet of any positives coming out of this tournament?  

5 hours ago, Quaker2001 said:

can we please stop over-reacting as if the only solution is to cancel the Olympics?

Definitely. 

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6 hours ago, Triplecast said:

As for Budapest, for the last three days the Hungarian capital has been hosting the European Wrestling Olympic Qualification Tournament.  288 wrestlers across 35 European countries are competing.  If any sport is going to risk the spread of Covid-19, its hard to think of one more likely to do so than wrestling.  Have we heard yet of any positives coming out of this tournament?  

Let’s see. It’s not that you get tested positive immediately after infection. The examples I mentioned were discovered a few days after competition ended.

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On 3/20/2021 at 3:06 PM, stryker said:

So any predictions on what the final number is going to be after the Tokyo Olympics post a massive financial loss?

 

Didn't postpone already cost them around $2 billion, I'm guessing at least $3 billion in losses. 

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Not just losses to Japan and tour operators, but refunds of HUGE TV revenues altho of course, I imagine they got good insurance cancellation policies for this type of outcome.  NBC, of course, learned well from its initial Moscow 1980 involvement.  Even though they bid an astounding amount of $87 mil for those 1980 rights, they had also bought a $4.7 million policy from Lloyds.  When all was said and done, they didn't lose their shirt of $87 million; just the cost of the policy.  I hope all parties learned from that experience.  But of course, the premiums double and triple up the next time around.  

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On 3/22/2021 at 7:36 PM, baron-pierreIV said:

Not just losses to Japan and tour operators, but refunds of HUGE TV revenues altho of course, I imagine they got good insurance cancellation policies for this type of outcome.  NBC, of course, learned well from its initial Moscow 1980 involvement.  Even though they bid an astounding amount of $87 mil for those 1980 rights, they had also bought a $4.7 million policy from Lloyds.  When all was said and done, they didn't lose their shirt of $87 million; just the cost of the policy.  I hope all parties learned from that experience.  But of course, the premiums double and triple up the next time around.  

Why would they lose out? The statement is about foreign spectators. It says nothing  about press. What does the Playbook say about media?

Media will be allowed in. They will all be vaccinated. NOCs and people from different teams will be allowed in. Different federations will up who is "official" to a team.

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IOC reduces accreditations for Tokyo Games

The International Olympic Committee Executive Board has decided that only people who have essential and operational roles will be granted accreditation for the Tokyo Olympics.

The IOC announced on Friday that the Japanese government said it needs a significant reduction in the number of accredited participants who do not have operational roles.

Top officials responsible for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics decided this month that overseas spectators will not be allowed to attend the Games due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision was made during a five-party organizers' meeting that included the IOC and the Japanese government.

Tokyo 2020 Director General Muto Toshiro said accreditation should be reviewed, but participants with organizing roles could be allowed into Japan for the Games.

The IOC says that following the request from Japan, it has cancelled or reduced the IOC Guest Programme as well as invitations to Olympic athlete legends.

The decision applies to the Paralympic Games as well.

Date:March 27,2021

News source:NHK WORLD-JAPAN

Link to this article:https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20210327_13/

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300 hotel rooms planned for Tokyo Olympic athletes with COVID-19

The organizing committee for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics is planning to secure a hotel with about 300 rooms for athletes with minor or no symptoms of the novel coronavirus, officials with knowledge of the plan said Saturday.

It is yet another effort from the organizing committee to prevent the spread of the virus during this summer's games, the officials said, adding that the hotel will be used to isolate and treat the athletes around the clock soon after testing positive for the virus.

Those athletes and Olympic staff members who do not need to be hospitalized will be quarantined in hotel rooms for 10 days in principle, said the officials, who declined to be named as the plan has not been made public.

The committee is considering reserving an entire hotel building located a few kilometers away from the athletes' village in Tokyo's Harumi waterfront district, which is expected to cost hundreds of millions of yen, according to the officials.

It also plans to prepare up to 30 special vehicles, designed to protect drivers from infection, to transport COVID-19 patients to the hotel.

Since the Summer Games will draw athletes and officials from across the globe, it is seeking to meet their needs at the hotel, such as offering multi-language services and halal food.

The Japanese government and the organizing body have pledged to hold a safe Olympics and Paralympics following a one-year postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the COVID-19 guidelines called the "playbook" released by the organizers in February, athletes will be tested for the virus at least every four days.

But the Tokyo committee has been looking into increasing the frequency of testing in the wake of new virus variants spreading in Japan and other countries, with less than four months to go before the opening of the Olympics.

During the games, the athletes will only be allowed to travel to their competition venues and limited additional locations, and cannot use public transportation unless given special permission.

The second version of the playbook will be published later this month.

Date:11 April,2021

News source:The Mainichi

Link to this article:https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210411/p2g/00m/0sp/009000c

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https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1106556/poll-shows-public-against-tokyo-2020

72 percent wants the Olympics postponed or cancelled? Unless it's a highly skewed poll, it's hard not see a majority not supportive of holding the Olympics this summer.

The Tokyo games are going to lose money. There's serious legacy issues with some of the venues.I think a cancellation probably would have been in the cards if there wasn't a report last year that stated a cancellation would reduce Japan's GDP by 1.4%. They are looking at a multi-billion dollar loss but the organizers along with the IOC seem to be following what I call the pick your poison option. I expect once the Olympics conclude, we'll see a Trump type spin job from the IOC about how successful the games were while the respective sports federations will point out that some venues built for Olympic capacity like the aquatics center, rowing course, and the Ariake Arena will take a financial hit due to the downsizing afterwards but argue they would have been needed in Tokyo anyway regardless of whether or not the Olympics were held.

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22 minutes ago, stryker said:

https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1106556/poll-shows-public-against-tokyo-2020

72 percent wants the Olympics postponed or cancelled? Unless it's a highly skewed poll, it's hard not see a majority not supportive of holding the Olympics this summer.

 

Personally, for the 24% who say postpone again, I think they need to be told that that is not an option, its either cancel forever or hold the Games starting July 21.  How would those 24% feel then, I wonder?

Good informative article by Sports Illustrated

 Tokyo 2020 Olympics: High opposition in Japan, but where? - Sports Illustrated

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I really think the Tokyo Games should be cancelled, or at least postponed to 2032 as some reported to be an option.

First, Covid situation is still uncertain in Japan which might rise again in the coming months. Safety concerns for the athletes, media and locals.

Secondly, it is not going to feel the same without international supporters and socially distances spectators. 

Thirdly, I suspect for many athletes, they won't be able to train in their 100% capacity due to the various lockdowns which is also unfair to athletes from countries where lockdown restrictions are more harsh. Hence this Games will not see athletes compete to their best ability. 

Lastly, I don't think the world is in the mood to follow the Games to be honest when we are still fighting this pandemic. I for one couldn't care less about the Olympics now. We need to get this crisis over before the world can come together again.

 

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5 hours ago, kevzz said:

I really think the Tokyo Games should be cancelled, or at least postponed to 2032 as some reported to be an option.

 

 

2036 is the next possible date for Tokyo.  I guess they can wait for 15 years.

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1 minute ago, Triplecast said:

2036 is the next possible date for Tokyo.  I guess they can wait for 15 years.

I am sure IOC can push Brisbane to 2036 as a goodwill gesture to Tokyo given how much they have lost trying to host 2020

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