Hashimoto took over as head of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee just last month after former chief Yoshiro Mori resigned after reports that he’d made sexist remarks.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic caused a one-year delay of the Tokyo Olympics from July of 2020 to July of 2021. And even about a year after the pandemic first hit the sports world, COVID-19 continues to force tricky decisions on major sporting events.
Japan will hold its Olympic qualifying event (from April 3-10) without spectators present. But other major sporting events have started to bring back spectators, albeit at limited capacities.
Hashimoto told media outlet Nikkei that the organizing committee would announce guidelines for spectator limitations later this month. That’s a bit earlier than the IOC’s original plans, which were to reveal spectator guidelines in April or May.
“I thought it would be better to announce it faster to get everyone feeling safe,” Hashimoto said in the Nikkei piece.
But the organizing committee is not considering an Olympics with no spectators, Nikkei reports.
It’s not clear yet if international spectators will be allowed. Hashimoto was asked if spectators from overseas would be allowed, and she didn’t give a direct response. Japanese media have reported that a decision has already been made to exclude international spectators, per The Guardian.
The tough decisions come even as domestic support for the Olympics falls sharply. Up to 80% of Japanese citizens want the Olympics cancelled or postponed again, according to The Guardian. But Olympic organizers have still expressed their desire to move forward with the Games, quarantining the Olympic village and giving athletes guidelines for health and safety within the Olympic village.