Tokyo marks 1 month until pandemic-hit Olympics

Jun 23 , 2021. 2 hours ago – 07:45 KYODO NEWS

Photo taken from the Shibuya Sky observation deck in Tokyo on June 22, 2021, shows the National Stadium, the main venue of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics starting in about a month. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

TOKYO – Tokyo marked one month until the opening of the Olympics on Wednesday, with organizers entering the final phase of preparations to improve safety measures and perfect logistical operations after more than a year of difficulties posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Athletes started to arrive in Japan this month to hold training camps, but the organizers of the Olympics and Paralympics continue to struggle to turn Japanese people in favor of staging the sporting extravaganza amid a global health crisis.

The organizers have given the public and participants a better idea of what the Olympics will be like following an unprecedented postponement, having set significant limits on spectator attendance.

They finally decided on what to do with local fans on Monday, saying venues can fill to 50 percent of capacity, up to a maximum of 10,000 spectators, and left open the possibility of hosting the games behind closed doors if the infection situation worsens.

The decision was made just after a COVID-19 state of emergency ended in Tokyo and some other parts of the country.

Still, medical experts warn of a possible resurgence of the virus before or after the Olympics begin July 23. A recent Kyodo News survey also found that about 86 percent of people in Japan are concerned about the risk of a rebound in COVID-19 cases.

After barring overseas spectators in March, Seiko Hashimoto, president of the organizing committee, has said the decision on limits for domestic spectators is the “final piece” of the most complicated part of its preparations, before a fresh lottery for ticker holders to determine who can watch in person.

Since the postponement of the Olympics and Paralympics last year, the organizers have faced a number of challenges from securing venues, reviewing costs, formulating anti-virus measures and explaining to the public that the games can be held safely.

Japanese and Australian softball teams will raise the curtain on competitions on July 21 in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima before the official opening of the Olympics. The athletes’ village will formally open on July 13.

Passers-by walk by an illustration of Miraitowa (L) and Someity, official mascots of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, in Tokyo on June 22, 2021, about one month ahead of the opening of the summer games, which were postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Featuring some 11,000 athletes from around the world, 33 sports will be staged during the games that close on Aug. 8. In order to prevent the spread of the virus, athletes will be kept in a “bubble” environment and will not be allowed to interact with locals or visit places outside of their venues or accommodation.

The International Olympic Committee has set the deadlines for the qualification period next Tuesday and the athletes’ registration period on July 5.

The Tokyo leg of the torch relay is set to begin on July 9. While about 10,000 runners were initially set to carry the Olympic flame in the country’s 47 prefectures, the organizing committee has scaled down or taken the event off public roads in many areas, including Hokkaido, Osaka and Fukuoka.

Cr.KYODO NEWS