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Tokyo Olympics Will Allow Spectators, Despite Advice From Doctors

The Tokyo Olympics announced Monday it will allow up to 10,000 Japanese spectators at each event, overriding doctors assertions the games would be safer without crowds, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The decision is an attempt to build excitement and enthusiasm ahead of the opening ceremony on July 23, the WSJ reported, despite concerns that not enough of the Japanese population is vaccinated. In March, foreign spectators were banned from attending and earlier this month, officials were still arguing over a potential cancellation of the games. 

Venue capacity will be limited at 50% with a maximum of 10,000 people, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and three Japanese parties said Monday in a joint statement. However, if infection rates and the capacity of the medical system worsen, the guidelines would be subject to change, the statement said.

Other guidelines require that masks be worn at all times, that congestion should be avoided, prohibit shouting or speaking in a loud voice, and says spectators should travel directly to and from venues, and leave in a staggered manner, the statement said.

Around 42% of tickets have been sold for the Olympics, but sales are above 50% for some events, the WSJ reported. To determine which ticket holder can attend an event where more tickets have been sold than the limits allow, organizers said they plan to hold a lottery and those who don’t get to attend the event will get a refund, the WSJ reported.

Stakeholders who include sponsors and sporting federation officials are not counted toward the 10,000 total, according to organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto, the Associated Press reported.

Japan’s vaccination effort remains behind many countries, with about 6.5% of Japanese fully vaccinated and 16.5% with at least one shot, the AP reported.

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