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Olympics Tokyo Olympics organisers hint at ban on foreign fans

THE new president of the Tokyo Olympic organising committee hinted today that there might be no foreign fans at this year’s games, though stopped short of confirming the rumoured move.

Major Japanese newspaper Mainichi had earlier reported that the decision to exclude foreign fans was already made, but cited only unnamed sources “involved in the discussions.”

After a meeting with IOC president Thomas Bach, committee president Seiko Hashimoto said that a decision on foreign fans will come by the end of the month. She wants one by March 25, when the torch relay begins from north-eastern Japan ahead of the Games’ scheduled opening on July 23.

But she added: “If the situation is tough and it would make the [Japanese] consumers concerned, that is a situation we need to avoid from happening.”

Bach also hinted at hard choices to be made.

“We will focus on the essentials,” he had said before the meeting. “That means mainly the competitions. This has to be the clear focus. In this respect we may have to set one or another priority.”

As for athletes, he said his hope was “to have as many participants as possible arriving vaccinated to Tokyo.”

“There I can inform you that a considerable number of national Olympic committees has already secured this pre-Tokyo vaccination,” Bach said.

And on domestic fans, Hashimoto said a decision on venue capacity will be made by the end of April — but that the “zero-fans option” was not discussed.

“We believe we will not be accepted unless the citizens feel confident that sufficient countermeasures are taken,” she said.

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