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Tokyo Olympics Will Open Its Doors To A Small Fan Base — COVID Permitting

The Olympic Rings near the National Stadium in Tokyo. Critics of the decision to allow local spectators into the games warn the huge event could lead to an increase in coronavirus infections.
Eugene Hoshiko
/
AP
The Olympic Rings near the National Stadium in Tokyo. Critics of the decision to allow local spectators into the games warn the huge event could lead to an increase in coronavirus infections.

Organizers for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics announced they will allow some local spectators into each venue as long as no state of emergency is in effect.

Up to 10,000 domestic fans will be allowed at events, or 50% of the venue's capacity, whichever is less, organizers said Monday.

The coronavirus situation in Japan has improved in recent weeks with increased vaccinations, though critics still believe it would be safer to close the games to all spectators.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga lifted a third state of emergency in Tokyo and other coronavirus restrictions in other regions last week.

Suga shared Monday that a push in the country's immunization program has resulted in at least 31 million inoculations to date. Now, an average of more than 1 million people per day are getting shots in Japan, he said.

The push is due in part to loosened restrictions on who can receive shots and the opening of mass vaccination centers throughout the country.

Critics of the decision to allow local spectators into the Olympic Games warned of the potential for the massive event to lead to an increase in infections. Government advisers said it's safer to ban all spectators.

Underscoring the risk associated with holding the Olympics during an ongoing pandemic was a report that an athlete traveling to Japan tested positive for the coronavirus.

One athlete from Uganda tested positive at Narita International Airport outside Tokyo over the weekend and was denied entry into the country, according to NPR's Anthony Kuhn. The government said that the athlete can enter the country after testing negative.

The unnamed athlete was part of a delegation of nine Ugandan athletes and coaches, competing in swimming, boxing and weightlifting. The rest of the Ugandans headed for a pre-game training camp.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Anthony Kuhn is NPR's correspondent based in Seoul, South Korea, reporting on the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and the great diversity of Asia's countries and cultures. Before moving to Seoul in 2018, he traveled to the region to cover major stories including the North Korean nuclear crisis and the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster.

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