The head of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee said Thursday the issue of whether to have spectators for this year’s Summer Games amid the coronavirus pandemic may become clearer around March 25.
Seiko Hashimoto, who became president of the committee a week ago following a sexism row sparked by her predecessor, said she wants to set a direction on the issue around that day, when the domestic leg of the torch relay for the Tokyo Olympics is slated to begin.
“It would be better to come out with a big-picture plan on spectators as soon as possible. At least, I want to set the direction first,” Hashimoto told reporters after a meeting with Japan Sports Agency Commissioner Koji Murofushi.
Her remarks came after International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach said at a press conference Wednesday that a decision on whether to allow overseas spectators to attend the games, delayed for one year due to the pandemic, could be made in April or early May.
Bach said the need to finalize planning for ticketing, logistics and immigration procedures meant a decision could not be made any closer to the opening of the Olympics on July 23.
“We would like to wait to the very last moment, but this is not possible,” Bach said.
Christophe Dubi, the IOC’s Olympic Games executive director, later said it wanted the decision made “as late as possible, but as early as needed,” to observe the progress of global efforts to combat the virus, while also allowing enough time for planning.
“Toward the end of April would be the right time,” said Dubi, who also suggested separate decisions might be made for spectators traveling from abroad and those based in Japan.
On Thursday, Japan’s Olympic minister Tamayo Marukawa, who took up the post previously held by Hashimoto, told a parliamentary session she is not aware that the IOC’s views should be regarded as a “deadline” or whether such a decision will be made by around that time.
Given that a meeting of the games’ organizers, including the IOC and the Tokyo metropolitan government, may be held next week, Marukawa said she will check on potential scenarios.
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