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Finally, spectators are barred from all Tokyo 2020 Olympic events

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Empty stadium will become familiar backdrop at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Olympics Minister Tamayo Marukawa has confirmed that fans will be banned from all Olympic venues in Japanese capital Tokyo in response to the new coronavirus state of emergency.

Organisers had planned to allow 10,000 fans or 50 per cent of a venue’s capacity, but this was under the assumption that Tokyo would not even be under a quasi-state of emergency, and they have performed a U-turn following today’s announcement that Tokyo will be under a state of emergency for the duration of the Games.

It comes amid a fresh spike in COVID-19 infections in Tokyo and on the day International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach arrived in the city.

Tokyo’s state of emergency is provisionally set to end on August 22 – two weeks after the conclusion of the Olympics and two days before the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympics.

This new policy was agreed on at a meeting attended by Bach and representatives from the IOC, the International Paralympic Committee, Tokyo 2020, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Japanese Government.

A joint statement between the five parties was released confirming this, while allowing room for other prefectures to allow spectators.

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“No spectators will be allowed into any venues in Tokyo during the Olympic Games,” read the statement.

“Under this policy, in areas where emergency measures are not in force, local Government authorities will meet and decide specific measures in consultation with the local governors based on the situation in each area.”

Seiko Hashimoto, President of Tokyo 2020, said she was “sorry” for the ticket holders who could no longer attend the Games.

“It is extremely regrettable that the Games will be staged in a very limited manner in the face of the spread of novel coronavirus infections,” said Hashimoto.

“I am very sorry for ticket holders and local residents who were looking forward to the Games.”

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The results of a ticket lottery system was expected to be announced on Saturday (July 10), but this will now be scrapped.

“We have shown this responsibility since the day of the postponement and we will also show it today and we will support any measure which is necessary to have a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games for the Japanese people and all the participants,” said Bach.

In the event of significant change in the state of infection, a meeting between the five parties will be convened immediately to review the spectator capacity.

Yesterday Tokyo reported 920 new COVID-19 infections, registering the highest daily count since mid-May, which factored into the Government’s decision to implement the state of emergency and the ban on spectators at the Games.

Initially, projected ticket revenue for Tokyo 2020 was approximately 90 billion yen (£596 million/$821 million/€692 million).

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The Tokyo 2020 Olympics is scheduled to take place from July 23 to August 8.

A decision was to be made on the policy for the Paralympic Games on July 16, a week before the Olympics Opening Ceremony, however this will now be delayed until after the Olympics ends.

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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