Tokyo Announces That There Will Be No Spectators in This Year’s Olympics
By Sophia Mao
On Wednesday, July 7, Tokyo announced that the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics would be without spectators to prevent the spread of the virus. The number of infected cases in the area and in Tokyo had been increasing since the end of last month, a few weeks ago.
The president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, Seiko Hashimoto, was sorry to announce this news. “I am very sorry for those people who will be disappointed. But in order to prevent the spread, this was the only choice available for us to take. I hope that you understand the difficult choice that we made,” he stated during a press conference. The committee likely finalized their decision after the Prime minister Yoshihide Suga announced that there were rising infections in the capital relating to the highly contagious delta variant.
For the olympians, this is definitely unfortunate news; the energy of the crowd is truly something special that can’t be replaced. For example, in sports like tennis, winning a point and hearing the crowd cheer really boosts the players’ spirits.
Fortunately, many olympians were already aware that they would not have spectators. Many have already gone through training and practices without any fans and spectators to prepare.
The International Olympic Committee respected Japan’s decision to remove the spectators because they “support it in the interest of safe and secure Games for everybody,” since many people in Japan were worried about the covid situation.
Earlier this year in May, the Olympics were almost canceled after a third state of emergency in Tokyo and several other prefectures until May 31. Japan successfully avoided a rapid spread of the virus, but the government has been criticized for being slow with vaccinations. According to a tracker, only 3.55% out of the 126 million people in Japan are vaccinated.
Part of the reason for the spectator ban also comes from the government's failure to get its citizens enough vaccinations before the games.
Although Japan has tried to show the rest of the world that they can handle the pandemic and successfully host the Olympics, the failure to provide enough vaccines in time has done the opposite. However, the Tokyo Olympics will likely run smoothly and many people at home are looking forward to watching their favorite athletes compete.
Sources: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/olympics/2021/07/08/olympics-spectators-japan/, https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/tokyo-doctors-call-cancellation-olympic-games-due-covid-19-2021-05-18/, https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/08/asia/japan-state-of-emergency-olympics-intl-hnk/index.html