Tokyo Olympic organisers on Wednesday unveiled a raft of tough new rules for spectators at the coronavirus-delayed Games, warning alcohol, hugs, cheers, and autographs have all been banned. Polite clapping is allowed but only under strict supervision.
Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto cautioned festivities “will have to be suppressed” to keep everyone safe, and conceded efforts to stoke a party atmosphere will have to be “creative” at a time when mask wearing will be compulsory.
AFP reports Games chiefs decided on Monday to allow up to 10,000 spectators into competition venues, but Hashimoto warned the mood will be sombre.
“In Europe, the venues are filled with celebration,” she said, alluding to the fun being enjoyed by football fans at Euro 2020. “Unfortunately, we may not be able to do the same.”
Spectators will need to clear several antivirus requirements, including temperature checks and mask-wearing, just to get into venues — with no refunds available for those who can’t.
Former British Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies took to social media Monday to criticize the International Olympic Committee for allowing a biological male to compete against women in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. https://t.co/Ix4Vw63Iv0
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Once inside, they are forbidden from cheering or “making direct contact with other spectators” and will be asked to return home immediately events finish.
Asking athletes for autographs or “expressing verbal support” is illegal, as is waving a towel or “any form of cheering that could create a crowd”.
“The festive mood will have to be suppressed — that has become a major challenge,” Hashimoto told reporters.
“People can feel joy in their hearts, but they can’t be loud and they have to avoid crowds,” she added.
With the July 23 opening ceremony nearing, organisers are scrambling to finalise preparations and win over a sceptical public, pledging the Games will be safe for locals and participants alike despite the event present threat of coronavirus.
More than 70 percent of people in Japan said in a poll they are opposed to holding the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. https://t.co/bBLftp3Zgh
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Organisers have already begun arriving, including International Olympic Committee vice president John Coates, who accompanied Hashimoto on a tour of the Games’ gymnastics venue on Wednesday.
Former athlete Hashimoto told reporters a stripped-back Games was a chance to refocus attention on the “true values” of the Olympics.
Addressing fears of a fun-free two weeks, Hashimoto hopes the Olympics would showcase Japan’s “culture of hospitality and caring about each other.”
“I hope such spirit of caring about each other, will become the legacy of the Games.”
An online petition with more than 350,000 signatures calling for the Tokyo Games to be canceled was submitted last month to local organizers, reflecting concerns by elements of the Japanese populace that two weeks of sports will be the world’s single biggest coronavirus superspreader event.
The Olympics, delayed by a year because of coronavirus, will be held held July 23 to Aug. 8.
AFP contributed to this story