Japan is considering simplifying the format of next year’s Tokyo Olympics as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, government sources said Thursday.
The changes could include a reduction in the number of spectators and a scaling back of the opening and closing ceremonies of both the Olympics and Paralympics, according to the sources.
The provision of medical services, including conducting polymerase chain reaction tests on athletes, staff and spectators, and restrictions on outings from the athletes village are being floated as possible measures against the virus.
In March, the International Olympic Committee and Japanese government postponed the Olympics, initially due to begin July 24, for one year because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the Olympics and Paralympics should be held in a “complete form” and dismissed an option to reduce the scale of the games.
But on Thursday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga stopped short of clarifying whether the government is still sticking to its pledge.
“It is also extremely important to host a secure and safe games,” the top government spokesman said during a news conference.
The sources said the organizing committee and the IOC are already in discussions about revisions to their operational plans to reduce costs and adopt measures against the virus.
“We hope to work together with the government and the organizing committee to look into what can be streamlined and simplified,” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said. “It will be necessary in order to gain empathy and understanding from the public.”
The Olympics are slated to be held from July 23 to Aug. 8 next year, with the Paralympic Games following between Aug. 24 and Sept. 5.
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