Tokyo 2020: Olympic organizers to ban spectators as Tokyo declares coronavirus emergency

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Olympic organisers are set to ban all spectators from the Games, the Asahi daily said on Thursday, as Japan prepared to declare a state of emergency for Tokyo that will run through its hosting of the event to curb a new wave of coronavirus infections.

Organisers were set to formally reach the decision on the spectators during five-way talks between key parties to be held on Thursday evening, the newspaper said, citing people involved in the Games.

The move is the latest blow to the troubled Olympics, already delayed by a year because of the pandemic and plagued by a series of setbacks, including massive budget overruns.

Medical experts have said for weeks that having no spectators at the Games would be the least risky option amid widespread public concern that the influx of thousands of athletes and officials will fuel a fresh wave of infections.

Organisers have already banned overseas spectators and have for now set a cap on domestic viewers at 50% of capacity, up to 10,000 people.

Anyone wanting to support athletes has been told to do so by clapping rather than cheering or singing. Public viewing sites have been cancelled and companies, wary of public opposition, have been hesitant about advertising related to the Games, adding to a subdued mood in the Japanese capital.

The evening talks are to be chaired by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, who arrives in Tokyo on Thursday. Other participants include the Tokyo and national governments and Paralympic officials.

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