Japan’s Govt. Planning to Ban Overseas Olympic Spectators over COVID-19 Fears

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TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s government is planning to stop overseas spectators from coming to the Summer Olympics due to worries they will spread the coronavirus, a report said on Wednesday, March 3, 2021, as many Japanese remain opposed to holding the Games during the pandemic.

The final decision would be made this month after talks with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other parties, the Mainichi newspaper reported, citing multiple unnamed sources.

The government would continue to consider whether to accept spectators from within Japan, including the number allowed into venues, the Mainichi added.

The report came as the local organising committee was set to host a meeting on Wednesday with officials from the IOC, the International Paralympic Committee, and the Tokyo and national governments.

The question of whether to allow spectators into venues was top of the agenda and organisers have previously said they would make a decision by March.

A Yomiuri newspaper poll showed on Wednesday that, if the Games are to go ahead as scheduled, 91% of people in Japan want spectators kept to a minimum or not allowed at all.

The poll – conducted between Jan. 18 and Feb. 25 – showed 70% of respondents said they were “interested in the Olympics”, but 58% said they did not want them to be held this year because of fears over COVID-19.

The 58% in opposition was, however, about 20 percentage points lower than earlier opinion polls.

The Tokyo Olympic Games were postponed last year because of the pandemic and rescheduled to take place this year from July 23.

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