Japan officials are considering banning spectators from Olympic events. Local newspaper Mainichi said Wednesday officials were exploring all options because of concerns the games may become Covid-19 "super-spreader" events.
According to the newspaper, health experts say no spectators during the events would be the best to prevent the spread of the virus.
For now, organizers have agreed to bar all foreign visitors from attending. They have set a limit on the number of domestic spectators allowed during each event. The number will vary depending on the venue but will be limited to 50% or a maximum of 10,000 people.
The newspaper, quoting government sources, said officials were discussing barring all spectators. Sources said a decision was expected after a meeting scheduled for Thursday. Tokyo's governor and the International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach are expected to attend.
The rush to restrict gatherings is partly the result of a political shift after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's ruling party lost a vote in Tokyo's assembly last week. Suga's administration has been criticized for its lenient virus prevention measures.
Chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato said Suga had always considered the option of no spectators from the games as a last resort but the administration was also looking into less severe measures.
Sources said the government was likely to extend a state of emergency in Tokyo and three nearby prefectures. The declaration was set to end July 11. Kyodo News said the date could be extended for another month, which means that restrictions will be in place throughout the Olympics. The event is set to end Aug. 8.
Unlike other nations, Japan hasn't experienced a serious outbreak. However, daily cases have risen over the past few months. The country has seen more than 800,000 cases and about 14,800 deaths.