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Hundreds of athletes — but no fans — participated in a test event at Tokyo’s National Stadium on Sunday, as organizers fine-tuned operations and practiced COVID-19 countermeasures with under three months to go before the Summer Games begin.

The dry run came days after the Sapporo Challenge Half Marathon, also an Olympic test event, went off without a hitch, with coronavirus prevention protocols drawing praise from World Athletics chief Sebastian Coe.

As anti-Olympic protesters gathered outside the National Stadium on Sunday, Coe was adamant the show must go on, Jason Coskrey reports. “Why should the Olympics take place? Because they are the premier sporting event in a four-year cycle,” he said, adding based on his experience since London 2012, “The legacies are manifest.”

Tokyo Olympics marathon test event takes place | THE INDEPENDENT
Tokyo Olympics marathon test event takes place | THE INDEPENDENT

Yet opposition to the games remains strong. An online petition in Japan calling for their cancellation has received over 300,000 signatures as of writing, having hit its initial goal of 200,000 signatures in record time Friday, just two days after its launch.

On Saturday, asked if there was any way the games could be cancelled or postponed at this late stage, International Olympic Committee Vice President John Coates was unequivocal: “No, there’s not,” he said.

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