Eugene Hoshiko / AP
The organizers of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo announced that they would allow some local spectators to enter each venue as long as there is no state of emergency.
Up to 10,000 local fans will be admitted to events or 50% of the capacity of the venue, whichever is lower, the organizers announced on Monday.
The coronavirus situation in Japan has improved in recent weeks due to increased vaccinations, although critics still believe it is safer to close the games to all spectators.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga lifted a third state of emergency for Tokyo and other coronavirus restrictions in other regions last week.
Suga announced Monday that a push from the country’s vaccination program has resulted in at least 31 million vaccinations to date. Now an average of over 1 million people are shot every day in Japan, he said.
The push is due in part to relaxed restrictions on who can get vaccinations and the opening of mass vaccination centers across the country.
Critics of the decision to allow local viewers to attend the Olympics warned of the potential that the mass event could lead to a surge in infections. Government advisors say it is safer to ban all viewers.
The risk associated with hosting the Olympics during an ongoing pandemic underscored a report that an athlete who traveled to Japan tested positive for the virus.
An athlete from Uganda tested positive at Narita Airport outside Tokyo over the weekend and was denied entry to the country, according to NPR’s Anthony Kuhn. The government says athletes can enter the country if they test negative.
The nameless athlete was part of a delegation of nine Ugandan athletes and coaches who competed in swimming, boxing and weightlifting. The rest of the Ugandans made their way to a pre-game training camp.