Tokyo Olympics to be staged behind closed doors

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Tokyo is reeling from surging coronavirus cases with 920 infections registered yesterday, up from 714 last week and the highest figure since May 13th. It means the forthcoming Olympics will be staged behind closed doors under state of emergency measures.
Tokyo is reeling from surging coronavirus cases with 920 infections registered yesterday, up from 714 last week and the highest figure since May 13th. It means the forthcoming Olympics will be staged behind closed doors under state of emergency measures.

By James Toney

Tokyo Olympics will go ahead behind closed doors, officials have confirmed.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach arrived in the Japanese capital this week and is remotely meeting with organisers and Tokyo's governor, while he spends three days in self-isolation.

Organising committee chief Seiko Hashimoto said a 'very difficult decision' needed to be made while Bach added he was ready to support any measure.

"We have shown this responsibility since the day of the postponement and we will also show it today," he said. 

"We will support any measure which is necessary to have a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games for the Japanese people and all the participants."

TOKYO 2020 - 'I KNOW WHAT I NEED TO ACHIEVE' - ADAM PEATY TARGETING MORE GOLD FOR TEAM GB
TOKYO 2020 - 'I KNOW WHAT I NEED TO ACHIEVE' - ADAM PEATY TARGETING MORE GOLD FOR TEAM GB

The Japanese government, who also confirmed Tokyo would be in a new state of emergency throughout the Games due to surging coronavirus numbers, had already banned foreign spectators, who were expected to number 600,000.

But it was hoped 10,000 local fans, up to 50 percent of venue capacities, would still be allowed to attend.

However, prime minister Yoshihide Suga - whose handling of the pandemic has seen his popularity slump ahead of elections later this year - was under increasing pressure to firm up this approach, following vocal opposition from the Japanese public and medical community.

Already his chief pandemic advisor had strongly warned any level of spectators ran the risk of turning the Games into a super-spreader event.

However, some spectators will still be allowed with those classed as VIPs - including Games sponsors - categorised as essential 'organisers', a move which has prompted fury from ordinary citizens now denied access for a Games that has cost a reported $15 billion.

Original plans had 7.8 million tickets for events, with 4.4m already sold to Japanese residents - meaning today's decision is expected to cost nearly $1bn in income on initial projections.

It's 57 years since Tokyo last staged the Games, the first Olympics broadcast internationally.

Since then the IOC has become a slave to TV rights, with 73% of their income from broadcast sales, totalling nearly $8 billion across rights holders including NBC and Discovery.

And the pressure to stage the Games for the TV cameras, if not spectators, has been a powerful driver in decision making.

Stream every unmissable moment of Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 live on discovery+

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