Olympics-Tokyo crowds decision to be part of wider ruling on sport: Coates

·2 min read
The giant Olympic rings are seen through a tree in Tokyo

By Nick Mulvenney

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Senior Olympic official John Coates says a decision on whether spectators will be allowed at the Tokyo Games will be made at the end of June as part of a more general ruling for all sports events in Japan, the Australian said on Friday.

The Japanese government has already decided that fans from overseas will not be permitted because of the fourth wave of the COVID-19 which has forced Tokyo and other areas of the country into a state of emergency.

Coates, a vice president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the organisation's point man for the Games, said he hoped some spectators would be allowed.

"I'd love to see (crowds) and I think the athletes would love to see it," he told reporters in Sydney on Friday.

"I think the decision will be put off until a decision on the whole of sport at the end of the month. The national leagues are still going on ...

"The government will make a decision on crowds and I think it will vary from venue to venue, it won't be a fixed percentage for all."

Polls have shown a majority of the Japanese public opposes holding the Games this year, worried about the flood of athletes and officials arriving in a country that has effectively been closed to foreign visitors since the pandemic broke out.

Coates said he was confident that the health protocols put in place by local organisers would keep both the population and the athletes safe, a confidence boosted by the five test events held "successfully" in Japan this year.

"I'm very, very confident in the work undertaken by our Japanese hosts," he added.

"We've also got the experience since last November of some 240 international sporting events taking place around the world involving 50-60,000 athletes. It's on that basis that I'm confident."

The Games, which were postponed for a year because of the pandemic, will officially open on July 23.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)