• Kyodo


The International Olympic Committee and four other organizing bodies of this summer’s Tokyo Games plan to hold a high-level meeting next Wednesday to discuss how to handle spectators amid the coronavirus pandemic, officials with knowledge of the matter said.

The online meeting is expected to focus on when to make a decision on whether to allow visitors from overseas and the number of spectators to be permitted at each venue of the Olympics and Paralympics, the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Friday.

With less than five months until the opening of the Tokyo Olympics, how to deal with spectators has been one of the major challenges for organizers of the sporting extravaganza, postponed for one year due to the pandemic.

Some officials said the organizers plan to make decisions in two phases. First, they are aiming to decide by March 25 whether to accept spectators from abroad. Later, they will determine the number of fans allowed at venues.

The meeting is expected to be attended by IOC President Thomas Bach, International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons, Tokyo Games organizing chief Seiko Hashimoto, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and Olympic minister Tamayo Marukawa.

On Thursday, Hashimoto said she wants to set a direction on the issue around March 25, when the domestic leg of the Olympic torch relay is slated to begin.

Her remarks came after Bach said at a news conference that a decision on whether to allow overseas spectators for the games could be made in April or early May.

Marukawa told a briefing on Friday that she was told by Hashimoto that the end of April or May could be too late to hash out the details on spectators from abroad.

The meeting will be the first involving the five organizers since Hashimoto became head of the Tokyo Organising Committee on Feb. 18.

She succeeded Yoshiro Mori, a former prime minister who was forced to step down over sexist comments.

A meeting of the four Olympic organizing bodies, excluding the IPC, was originally scheduled to take place in February, but was pushed back after Mori’s comments sparked a wave of outrage at home and abroad.

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