Tokyo Video games chief expects determination by March on permitting spectators

TOKYO (Reuters) – Organisers of the postponed Tokyo Olympics should decide in February or March whether the coronavirus risks have fallen enough to let spectators attend the Games in July, the head of the organising committee said on Tuesday.

The Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee made the decision last March to postpone the 2020 Olympics until July 2021 because of the pandemic.

Organisers have stressed they are determined to press ahead with holding the Games this year, even as COVID-19 cases surge and the Japanese government announced plans on Tuesday to widen a state of emergency to stem the spread of the virus.

So far, no decision has been made whether spectators will be allowed into venues during the Games and ticket holders who no longer wish to attend have already applied for refunds.

“I think we will have to make a very difficult decision around February to March,” Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee President Yoshiro Mori said at an online lecture hosted by Kyodo News Agency.

Daily virus cases hit a record 7,882 last Friday, for a tally of nearly 300,000, public broadcaster NHK said.

A recent poll conducted by Kyodo found that 80% of those surveyed think the Tokyo Games should either be postponed again or cancelled because of rising coronavirus cases.

However, Mori said it was “absolutely impossible” to cancel the Games again, largely because the organising committee would not be able to keep its staff for another year.

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