One month left until the troubled Tokyo Olympics
- After a one-year delay because of coronavirus, the opening ceremony will take place on July 23 and athletes have already arrived in the country
- Covid-19 restrictions ban international fans and competitors could be disqualified for not following the rules
The Tokyo Olympics have had to deal with a historic postponement, a ban on overseas fans and persistent domestic opposition, but with one month to go, the finish line is finally in sight.
The opening ceremony is set for July 23, and while the mood is far from jubilant, organisers might just have cause to celebrate.
The first Olympic teams are already in Japan, along with key officials and some overseas media. And polls suggest long-standing public opposition to the Games may be weakening as D-Day approaches.
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“We are in the full delivery phase,” International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Thomas Bach said on Monday.
“Athletes are beginning to arrive in Tokyo, ready to make their Olympic dreams become a reality.”
As the Games finally approach, the IOC says more than 80 per cent of those in the Village will be vaccinated, but competitors will still be tested daily.
A woman poses for pictures with her dog, dressed in a Tokyo Olympics logo outfit, outside the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) headquarters near the National Stadium, the main arena for the Games. Photo: Reuters
For the first half of the year, polls regularly found most Japanese opposed the Games this summer, favouring either a further delay or cancellation.
But officials pressed ahead, contending with delayed qualifiers and test events and launching a mammoth effort to draft virus rules they say will keep the event safe.
In March they announced the Games would be the first to bar overseas spectators, a decision that Tokyo 2020 chief and former Olympian Seiko Hashimoto called “unavoidable”.
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On Monday, organisers set a maximum of 10,000 domestic fans per venue, but warned events could move behind closed doors if infections surge.
Cheering will be banned, and athletes can’t hug or high-five.
They must wear masks at all times except when eating, sleeping or competing, and are only allowed to move between the Olympic Village and their venues.
Punishments for violating the rules will range from verbal warnings and fines to being kicked out of the Games altogether.