TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga vowed on Friday to do “whatever it takes” to organise the Tokyo Olympics next year by working closely with the International Olympics Committee and its Japan chapter.
“I want to make sure I see the Olympics take place next year,” he said, speaking at a town hall at Kyodo News, Japan’s largest news agency.
Japan is looking to test its Covid-19 countermeasures at big events ahead of the rearranged Olympics next year and Yokohama Stadium will hold three baseball games at around 80% capacity later this month.
Professional sports stadiums in Japan have been limited to 50% capacity as part of efforts to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, with the vast majority of games going ahead without issue.
Economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who heads Japan’s Covid-19 fight, told reporters late on Thursday that if the “experiment” was a success all professional stadiums would be allowed to boost capacity.
The Yokohama Baystars, who play at the 34,000-capacity Yokohama Stadium, which will also be used during the Olympics, confirmed in a statement that three games would be played at the venue with capacity set at around 80%.
On Thursday at the Tokyo Dome, where the Yomiuri Giants hosted Hiroshima Carp, 19,000 fans attended the game with full coronavirus countermeasures on display.
As well as having their temperature checked upon entry and disinfectant being available throughout the venue, which can host up to 45,000, all fans had to give their contact details to staff in case of an outbreak.
Giants fans have even changed their most popular chant to involve less yelling and vigorous movement that may spread the virus, while there was no sign of the beer vendors who are usually bringing drinks to fans in their seats.
Tokyo Games organisers, who have yet to decide whether to allow spectators into venues during the Olympics, said they would assess the impact of the countermeasures on show at the Dome.
“It is encouraging to see sport putting a smile on people’s faces every day,” Tokyo 2020 said via email.
“We see this as a valuable opportunity to gain expertise on COVID-19 countermeasures and are exchanging information with parties involved.”
Over seven million tickets have already been sold for the Games.
Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2020