Fan-free Tokyo Olympics remains an option

Stephen Wade
·2-min read

Olympic chiefs are adamant that the summer Games in Tokyo will go ahead but there are still few clues about the other burning question as to whether fans will be allowed to attend.

"Naturally, we are looking into many different scenarios, so no spectators is one of the options," organising committee President Yoshiro Mori said on Thursday after a video call with IOC President Thomas Bach.

"We don't want to hold the games without spectators, but in terms of simulations we are covering all the options."

The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organisers will roll out their "Playbook" next week, a detailed plan about how to hold the games during a pandemic.

It will set down strict rules for thousands of athletes arriving in Japan, about being isolated in bubbles, and then leaving the country as soon as they finish competing.

The Nikkan Sports newspaper, without citing sources, said that organisers are expected to announce "soon" that fans from abroad will not be allowed to attend.

Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto said earlier in the week the decision would be announced "by the spring."

The 15,400 Olympic and Paralympic athletes will be kept in a sterile bubble in Tokyo but thousands of others will not, including judges, officials, VIPS, sponsors, and media and broadcasters.

Fans are the most problematic and risky with the Olympics shaping up as primarily a television event.

Television money is critical for the IOC, which gets 75% of its income from selling broadcast rights.

The local organising committee was expected to receive $US800 million ($A1.0 billion) from ticket sales, its third-largest source of income.

Any shortfall is likely to be made up by a Japanese government entity.

Mori described his call with Bach - accompanied by Tokyo CEO Toshiro Muto - as a kind of pep talk.

Both the IOC and Tokyo are trying to forge ahead, unveiling their plans and trying to brush off repeated reports of a pending cancellation.

"President Bach gave us his strong stance, and it was a great encouragement to us," Mori said. "And we are thankful. That is what I told him. Basically that was the main topic of the conversation today."

Opinion polls in Japan show the public is against holding the Olympics with about 80% saying they should be postponed or cancelled.

"Everybody is hoping to be safe and secure," Mori replied. "Nobody rides a train hoping to encounter an accident."