Nov 18, 2020 - Sports

The Tokyo Olympics look set to go ahead with fans

Illustration of the coronavirus arranged as the Olympic rings
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

IOC president Thomas Bach arrived in Tokyo this week as a cheerleader for next year's Olympics, saying he's "very confident" the Games will open with fans on July 23, 2021.

What he's saying: Bach issued a gentle plea to all competitors to get vaccinated if and when a vaccine is available, and added that a "reasonable number" of fans should be able to attend with or without a vaccine.

  • Worth noting: Team USA's chief medical officer, Jonathan Finnoff, doesn't think there will be enough time to vaccinate everyone, even if vaccines continue to progress. "You have to think about it as a non-vaccinated Games," he told The Wall Street Journal.

The backdrop: Japan has controlled the coronavirus relatively well, with about 1,900 deaths in a country of roughly 125 million. And in recent weeks, sporting events have successfully been held with fans in attendance.

  • A test gymnastics event was staged in Tokyo last week involving athletes from Japan, China, Russia, and the U.S. About 2,000 fans attended, and outside of competition and training, gymnasts were confined to their hotel rooms.
  • Baseball games have been held in front of thousands of fans, who are required to wear masks and banned from cheering or shouting.
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