Only 3.5 percent of Tokyo Olympic sessions to allow spectators



Fukushima Azuma stadium, venue for baseball and softball events during the Tokyo Olympics in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. /CFP

Baseball and soft ball events of the Tokyo Olympics at Fukushima Azuma stadium in Fukushima Prefecture will reject spectator attendance due to growing COVID-19 infection cases in Japan recently, announced Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori on Saturday.

Only part of base ball and soft ball competitions will happen in Fukushima and others will be at Yokohama Stadium – also behind closed doors.

Uchibori made the request of banning spectators to Tokyo Olympic organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto at a teleconference and Hashimoto accepted it.

"The form (of the games) has changed due to the battle with the coronavirus. The framework is still there, but the whole image has become different from what we've been picturing," said Uchibori. He admitted that he was influenced by Hokkaido's decision on Friday to reject spectator attendance.

Olympic flames in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. /CFP

"There has been a great change to the premise of holding events with fans for those scheduled away from the metropolitan area. We've reached the decision to ensure the safe and secure hosting of the games," said Uchibori.

"It's extremely disappointing not being able to meet the expectations of the fans who were looking forward to the events," said Masanori Takaya, spokesperson of the organizing committee.

Ibaraki, Miyagi and Shizuoka prefectures will still allow attendees for the competitions they host. Of a total of 750 sessions during the whole Olympic Games, only 26, or 3.5 percent, will open to spectators.

The baseball opener between Japan and the Dominican Republic at Fukushima Azuma stadium on July 28 is not one of them.

Japan reported 2,458 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, according to COVID-19 Data of Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU).