Up to 10,000 fans will be allowed at Tokyo Olympics events, organisers said on Monday (Jun 21), warning that competition could move behind closed doors if COVID-19 infections surge.
The decision, which comes just weeks before the opening ceremony, ends months of speculation about whether spectators will be allowed at the pandemic-postponed Games. Overseas fans were banned in March.
"In light of the government's restrictions on public events, the spectator limit for the Olympic Games will be set at 50 per cent of venue capacity, up to a maximum of 10,000 people in all venues," organisers said in a statement.
A decision on spectators at the Paralympics will be delayed until Jul 16, a week before the Olympics open.
And officials left open the possibility of a reversal if the virus rebounds.
"If there should be major dramatic change in the infection situation, we may need to revisit this matter amongst ourselves and we may need to consider the option of having no spectators in the venues," Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said.
Senior medical experts, including top advisers to the government, have said that holding the Games behind closed doors would be "ideal" from a health perspective.
They fear that crowds of fans could fuel a new surge in infections in a country still racing to vaccinate its residents.
The decision was announced after five-way talks between Tokyo 2020 organisers and officials from Japan's government, the Tokyo government, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee.
Speaking before the meeting, IOC chief Thomas Bach said he was "absolutely sure that it will be a decision to best protect the Japanese people and all participants".