Japan has officially decided to move forward with the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games without foreign spectators, according to government officials who recently spoke with the Kyodo national news agency. The decision comes after weeks of pressure from Japanese citizens who are worried about the multitude of individuals coming into the country during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Although there are now multiple vaccines being distributed throughout the world, the new variants and lack of consistency regarding vaccine distribution throughout the world tells us that we’re not totally out of the woods yet with this pandemic, so we have to be precautious. Kyodo is the national news source that typically gets its information directly from the government, who reported this week that no spectators would be admitted from abroad to witness the Games this year.
Japan overall has handled the Covid-19 pandemic well. The nation in total has registered less than 450,000 cases and 8,000 deaths total; for reference they have a population of about 126 million. Tokyo, where the Olympics will be occurring, accounts for about 37 million people in that population.
The Japanese public have been voicing their overwhelming opposition to hosting the Games this summer since the end of last year. Many citizens don’t even want them to be postponed again, and instead just want them to be cancelled altogether until the world has truly returned to a sense of normalcy and Covid-19 isn’t even a part of the conversation when it comes to the Olympics.
About 80% of citizens who were polled stated that they think the Olympics should be rescheduled, moved, or cancelled altogether. The Games were already postponed after last year when the Covid-19 pandemic was first hitting the world. Ever since that initial postponement, Tokyo Olympic officials and the International Olympic Committee have been debating how to pull off the Games this summer, if at all.
Tokyo Olympic officials released a 33-page playbook last month that’s full of fuels for behavior for every party involved in the Olympics. This release was to show the public that they’ve prepared adequately to host the event safely.
“The document offered guidelines for behavior for certain groups of people who are going to attend the Olympics, including athletes and their entourages, but it made no mention of foreign fans, specifically.”
There have been no conversations so far regarding vaccine requirements for athletes, fans, and other parties who will be present at the Games. Japan itself has only just started rolling out vaccines to its citizens as well, with reports of the first doses being administered in mid-February.
For now it’s still unclear what the 2021 Summer Games will look like, and with a few months and hundreds of millions of vaccines left to be distributed throughout the world, the guidelines are surely subject to change.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.