Due to rising Coronavirus cases in the Tokyo area, Tokyo 2020 chief Seiko Hashimoto told reporters over the weekend that the decision to allow some spectators into the Olympic venues may be revisited as the Games approach.
The remarks came after a small delegation from Uganda yielded two positive Coronavirus tests, one of which was for the highly-contagious Delta variant. It’s currently unconfirmed, but the Osaka Governor, Hirofumi Yoshimura, says that it’s believed the 2nd infected member of the delegation is also carrying the Delta variant. After news of the positive cases, Hashimoto told reporters that it’s apparent Tokyo needs to “tighten” its countermeasures against Covid-19.
Although Hashimoto has not yet been specific about how the Olympic Committee plans to beef up their Coronavirus countermeasures, we can assume the athletes will likely be subjected to a strict “bubble” environment in the Olympic Village. Notably, the NBA ran a bubble environment in Disney World for their 2020 playoffs last summer, which ultimately turned out to be highly effective in terms of protecting against Covid, with no athletes testing positive within the bubble. Hashimoto also mentioned that protections will have to be put in place regarding how the athletes travel from site to site around Japan.
As the current Tokyo 2020 precautions stand, athletes and staff traveling to Japan will be required to have a negative Covid-19 test before arriving in Japan.
Tokyo just recently ended a state of emergency, and immediately after the restrictions lifted, the number of daily cases jumped back up over 600 for the first time in a month. This past Friday, 562 cases were reported, compared to 450 reported cases the previous Friday, before the state of emergency was lifted. Due to the rising numbers, and the Olympics drawing ever nearer, Hashimoto told reporters that holding the Games without spectators “remains an option,” provided cases don’t start decreasing before the end of the month.
Recently, the organizing committee, along with several other bodies, determined that they would allow the venues to fill to 50% of capacity, with a hard cap on 10,000 spectators at any given venue. Given Hashimoto’s remarks this weekend, it appears both possible and likely that decision will be altered in the coming weeks.