Tokyo cancels public viewing sites for summer Olympics

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has cancelled all public viewing sites for the summer Olympics, diverting some venues to be COVID-19 vaccinations centres instead.

Foreign spectators are banned from attending the Games, delayed by a year due to the pandemic, but the government and Tokyo 2020 organisers have for months held off on deciding whether to allow Japanese spectators into the stadiums.

The ban on public viewing, announced on Saturday, follows the metropolitan government’s decision this month to scrap plans for a public viewing site in Yoyogi Park in central Tokyo, converting the venue to a vaccination centre.

“I believe these are necessary measures, when looking from various perspectives, for a successful Olympic and Paralympic Games,” Koike told reporters after meeting with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

They are to talk on Monday with the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee.

Japanese medical experts said on Friday that banning spectators at the Olympics was the least risky option for going ahead with the event while floating the possibility that venues could hold up to 10,000 fans in areas where “quasi-emergency” measures, such as shorter restaurant hours, have been lifted.

On Saturday, a new survey revealed that Japanese businesses also echoed the reservations of the population.

Kyodo news agency said that 64 per cent of the 9,163 businesses polled by the Tokyo Shoko Research between June 1 and 9 were in favour of cancellation or another postponement.

The main reservations cited were fear of rising infection numbers and a slow vaccine rollout.

Earlier this month, about 10,000 of the 80,000 volunteers who signed up to help at the Olympic and Paralympic Games quit, broadcaster NHK said, citing organisers.

However, local organisers, the Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee are determined to stage the Games, amid strict hygiene and with some 80 percent of the athletes to be vaccinated ahead of the Games.

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