“Holding the Olympic and Paralympic Games calls for sympathy and understanding of Tokyoites and the Japanese people,” Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, told reporters without providing details, according to Reuters. “For that, we need to rationalize what needs to be rationalized and simplify what needs to be simplified.”
The Yomiuri newspaper, citing unnamed sources in the government and organizing committee, said Japan was considering making the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for the coronavirus mandatory for all spectators, as well as athletes and staff, and limiting movement in and out of the Athletes’ Village.
Kyodo News agency said other options under consideration include reducing the number of spectators and scaling back the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of both the Olympics and Paralympics. Organizers plan to discuss options with the IOC.
Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya did not confirm the reports but said the IOC and Japanese organizers were studying ways to “optimize and streamline” the Games to reduce costs, while details of how to respond to the coronavirus will take place in the fall when more information is available.
“The spread of the novel coronavirus . . . is something very ambiguous, and we have no ability to completely understand what the situation will look like next year,” he said.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declined to say whether the government was sticking to its promise to hold a “complete” Games.
“It is also extremely important to host a secure and safe Games,” he told a news conference Thursday.
The Games were delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic and are now scheduled to be held from July 23 to Aug. 8 next year, with the Paralympic Games to take place between Aug. 24 and Sept. 5. Organizers have ruled out a further delay.
Faced with massive demand, Tokyo 2020 organizers say they sold nearly 4.5 million tickets to the 2020 Olympics to residents of Japan and an undisclosed number to people in other countries — before the Games were delayed — out of a total of about 7.8 million that they had initially expected to have to sell.
Those tickets are expected to be honored, although whether everyone will still want to attend is another question.
After declaring a state of emergency for April and most of May, Japan has managed to reduce the number of new infections from the coronavirus to a few dozen a day and has officially recorded just over 900 deaths, a fraction of the toll in the United States and Western Europe.
Akiko Kashiwagi contributed to this report.