Jun 10, 2021 - Sports

Tokyo Olympics could allow domestic spectators as COVID cases plummet

Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: CSSE Johns Hopkins University; Chart: Axios Visuals

As cases continue dropping in Japan, officials are considering allowing domestic spectators into next month's Olympics.

Why it matters: Just over a month ago, Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto said she was prepared to hold the Games in front of empty stadiums, reports the Asahi Shimbun.

By the numbers: This change of heart has coincided with the plummeting rate of new cases.

  • After peaking on May 14 with a record high seven-day average of 6,460 cases, that number has dropped by nearly two thirds, to just 2,320.
  • Vaccine rollout, meanwhile, has accelerated, as they've begun their under-65 inoculations and have a program in place to vaccinate people at workplaces and universities beginning June 21.

The state of play: Foreign spectators have long since been banned, and foreign media will be carefully monitored by GPS during their stay in Tokyo.

  • Yes, but: Having some semblance of fans is important because "the athletes will not be able to give their best performances with zero spectators," said one high-ranking official in the prime minister's office.

What to watch: A decision regarding spectators is expected by June 20, when the country's state of emergency is scheduled to end, but there are some who fear a surge in new cases will follow once those nationwide protocols are relaxed.

Go deeper: Tokyo was picked as the "safe" choice for the Olympics. Here's how everything changed (CNN)

Go deeper