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The Made-for-TV Olympics

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People protest the 2020 Olympics at the Shinjuku district in Tokyo. (Reuters / Kwiyeon Ha)

By Fred Cromartie, Ed.D. |

With the Summer Games set to open in just two weeks, Tokyo Olympic Minster Tamayo Marukawa announced today that fans will be barred from Olympic events due the to the continued rise and emergence of Covid-19 cases and variations in the Japanese capital.

“We reached an agreement on no spectators at venues in Tokyo,” Marukawa said of the widely expected move after talks involving local and national government officials, organizers and Olympic and Paralympic chiefs. The ban was announced by the International Olympic Committee and Japanese organizers, reducing the games to a made-for-TV event.

The news as announced in headlines in news sources across the global: Tokyo Olympics Bars Spectators as Japan Declares Covid-19 state of emergency, with the state of emergency continuing through the end of the Games.

In comments quoted by Kyodo News, organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said: “It is extremely regrettable that the games will be staged in a very limited manner in the face of the spread of novel coronavirus infections.”

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

The main focus of the emergency is a request for bars, restaurants and karaoke parlors serving alcohol to close. A ban on serving alcohol is a key step to tone down Olympic-related festivities and keep people from drinking and partying. Tokyo residents are expected to face stay-home requests and watch the games on TV from home.

Dr. Fred Cromartie is the Director of Doctoral Studies at the United States Sports Academy.

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