On Thursday, the news that many had feared was confirmed: there will be no fan presence at Olympic venues in and around the city of Tokyo. The reason is a new increase in coronavirus infections.
The sad announcement was made by Olympics Minister Tamayo Marukawa shortly after she held talks with both officials and organisers.
The decision to ban spectators came just hours after Japan’s government declared a new state of emergency in Tokyo, which will run throughout the Games and is intended to help reduce the number of Covid-19 cases.
In statements to the press, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that this will begin on 12 July and end on 22 August.
The state of emergency means that sports venues in Tokyo and other areas around the capital will be banned from hosting fans during the Games.
Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto said: “It is regrettable that we are delivering the Games in a very limited format, facing the spread of coronavirus infections.”
However, stadiums located in the Fukushima, Miyagi and Shizuoka regions will be allowed to hold spectators up to 50% capacity and up to 10,000 people.
A glimmer of hope for an event that will take place in the midst of an adverse, atypical and unprecedented context in the history of world sport.