Just as we expected, the Japanese Olympic Committee have confirmed that Tokyo venues for the pandemic-delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics will not have spectators due to the city’s coronavirus state of emergency through the Games.
The announcement was made following a meeting of five Olympic and Japanese government groups responsible for the Games.
Japanese Olympic Committee Seiko Hashimoto said due to the pandemic, organizers have “no choice but to hold the Games in a limited way.”
Venues in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, and Saitama prefectures would be “completely unattended”, the Asahi Shimbun had reported citing government sources.
The four areas which span metropolitan Tokyo and its surrounds are home to all the major Olympic venues, including the Olympic Stadium where the athletics will be held and the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, where the swimming will begin on July 24.
Events taking place outside of Tokyo in areas not under the most severe restrictions are still being considered for spectators.
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Now that Japanese leaders have imposed yet another state of emergency on Tokyo (the fourth since the start of the pandemic), spectators have been officially barred from all Olympic events.
As a result, Reuters reports that many Olympic sponsors – who had hoped to cash in on their sponsorship by hawking food, drinks and goods to spectators at the live events – are pulling out of the event.
But it’s not just smaller sponsors and vendors who are balking now that spectators are being excluded. More than a dozen companies, including Canon, Tokio Marine and Nicido Fire Insurance and Ajinomoto are also dropping out.
The decision “highlights the delicate situation for sponsors who have tied themselves to a Games now hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and public opposition.”
Pretty much all of the 60 or so corporate sponsors feel like they’re not getting their money’s worth. Together, they paid a record of more than $3 billion for the sponsorship rights, with another $200MM spent to extend their contracts after the Games.
Unlike “worldwide partners” with multi-year deals, domestic sponsors are only involved in the Tokyo Games.
They have been frustrated by what one of the sources described as “impromptu” decisions by organisers, particularly the months-long delay on whether spectators would be allowed.
With only two weeks to go until the start of the Games, Japan is expected to ban all spectators as it prepares to declare a state of emergency for Tokyo that will run through its hosting of the event. Tokyo recently reported 920 coronavirus cases in one day, the most since May.
“We are finally making decisions on our own, without waiting for the organisers’ cue,” said one source, an employee at one sponsor, who, like other people interviewed, declined to be identified because the information is not public.
“It’s a ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ situation for sponsors, but everyone is starting to take action.”
The Games will run between Friday July 23 and Sunday Aug. 8.