TOKYO — There have been discussions within the Tokyo organizing committee and the Japanese government about the possibility of allowing a limited number of fans to begin attending Olympic competitions at outdoor venues, a source told Yahoo Sports on Sunday.
Currently no fans are allowed at any competition venue due to COVID precautions.
The discussions are considered preliminary, with nothing imminent, the source said. However, the talks reveal at least the possibility that the fan-less Olympics will partially reverse course as the Games go on.
Officially, the Tokyo organizing committee told Yahoo Sports there are no current discussions, noting, “Tokyo 2020 is making every effort to make the Tokyo 2020 Games a success.”
The motivation to allow fans is centered on polling numbers that continue to show public opposition to the Tokyo Games being staged while the region is under a state of emergency due to COVID, according to a source. There has been a disconnect as the major international sporting event continues while local businesses, offices and bars and restaurants have been shuttered or restricted.
Various polls over the last few months show between 60 and 80 percent of Japanese oppose the staging of the Games. Others are indifferent to the event. Friday’s Opening Ceremony inside a near empty, newly constructed $1.4 billion stadium was panned globally for lacking ambiance and excitement.
The scenes of cheering fans lining both the men’s and women’s cycling routes on Saturday and Sunday, however, was the kind of visual that shows the Japanese want to connect with these Games and that it can be done in a safe and socially distanced fashion. Five-thousand fans were allowed inside the Tokyo Dome Sunday night for a professional wrestling event that was not affiliated with the Olympics.
Allowing a limited number of fans to attend outdoor competitions inside often massive venues in sports such as track and field, soccer, beach volleyball and others might help with the approval ratings of the Olympics — and the government.
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