With less than five months until the start of the Tokyo Olympics, Japan still faces many unanswered questions about how to hold the world’s largest sporting event amid the coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps the most pressing question of all: Will fans — overseas and domestic — be able to attend?

If sources quoted by Kyodo are to be believed, the government is leaning toward limiting spectators to Japan residents only to ensure the games pass off safely, with the final decision to come by the end of the month.

Right now, the signs bode ill for overseas fans: Not only is the government preparing to prolong a state of emergency covering the Tokyo region, but it has also just extended its strictest border control measures to 13 more countries and left the borders closed for nonresident foreign nationals, reports Magdalena Osumi.

Tokyo Olympics organisers consider banning overseas fans | AL JAZEERA ENGLISH
Tokyo Olympics organisers consider banning overseas fans | AL JAZEERA ENGLISH

In fact, Japan may have enough on its plate already as local governments step up preparations to vaccinate not only Japanese nationals but also foreign residents against the virus, with some municipalities more ready than others for the logistical and linguistic challenges ahead.

Take the city of Yamato in Kanagawa, home to one of the prefecture’s highest concentrations of non-Japanese residents. There, a vaccination site will be set up by the local international association HQ, manned by volunteer interpreters offering services in 20 languages. But as Tomohiro Osaki reports, other localities have barely begun to consider foreign residents’ needs.

Thursday’s (and last Thursday’s) new COVID-19 cases by prefecture (30 or over): Tokyo 279 (340), Kanagawa 138 (119), Saitama 123 (111), Chiba 107 (107), Osaka 81 (82), Aichi 68 (41), Hokkaido 66 (43), Fukuoka 37 (39), Ibaraki 37 (13), Fukushima 34 (19). Source: Japan COVID-19 Coronavirus Tracker