Tokyo 2020: Olympics and Paralympics should be held behind closed doors, advises Japanese government’s top health expert

The Japanese government’s top adviser on coronavirus has recommended that the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games take place behind closed doors.

Dr Shigeru Omi met with representatives of the Tokyo 2020 local organising committee on Friday and told them “the best way” to ensure safety amid the pandemic was to hold the Games without spectators.

However, the organisers indicated on Friday that they are continuing to look at ways for a limited number of Japanese spectators to attend.

Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto said at a press conference: “The recommendations from Dr Omi have indicated that ideally, the best way is to hold the Games without spectators – that was his recommendation.

“But if we are to hold the Games with spectators, he also had his own recommendations in that case.”

Hashimoto added: “When we look at other sports events like J.League and professional baseball, they have provided us with sufficient evidence of what they have been able to accomplish so far under the circumstances.

“So we also need to take those things into consideration as well, and Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are very special.

“Therefore, Dr Omi has mentioned that we need to be even more stringent than the other sports games, and I understand that. So, we need to look at stricter rules and that is what I think we should be doing.”

Hashimoto said there would be a five-party meeting on Monday where further discussions on spectators will take place.

The five parties are the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, the International Olympic and Paralympic Committees, the Tokyo metropolitan government and the national government.

Currently Japanese sports events can accommodate 10,000 spectators or 50 per cent of venue capacity, whichever is lowest.

A decision was taken in April to bar overseas spectators from entering Japan.

One of the measures set to be implemented is to urge spectators to go immediately home after attending an event, rather than stop off at a bar or a restaurant, Hashimoto said.

Hashimoto added: “As long as we have spectators who would endeavour to see the Games on site then we would like to accommodate their requests as much as possible.

“We should do whatever we can to minimise the risks until the very last minute and that is the mission of Tokyo 2020, to search for the best way to make this happen.

“We need to first secure overall safety so that people will have a secure sense of mind.

“We will endeavour to have people to enjoy the Games on site but if still the circumstances are very challenging, then in that case we may be advised to make a very difficult decision of not welcoming any spectators at the very last minute.

“But until that very last minute, we will continue doing our best.”

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