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IOC expects 6,000 athletes at Tokyo Olympics’ opening ceremony


The International Olympic Committee has estimated that about 6,000 athletes will participate in the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics, half the initial prediction before the event was postponed, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

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According to sources familiar with the matter, this is intended to limit the athletes’ period of stay in the Olympic Village, to prevent novel coronavirus infections. It will also help simplify the Olympics.

The opening ceremony was initially planned to be held at the Japan National Stadium in July last year, and about 11,000 athletes from about 200 countries and regions were supposed to participate. Many athletes were expected to wait for several hours before marching at the stadium, and even after that, they were likely to stay at the stadium until the end of the ceremony.

Measures against infections are required for the postponed opening ceremony scheduled to be held this summer. The issues to be tackled include the elimination of crowding among the athletes in the waiting areas and on the field after their march at the ceremony. Since June last year, the organizing committee of the Tokyo Games has proposed reducing the number of athletes marching at the ceremony to cut security and other costs, as well as simplify the ceremony.

However, the IOC fiercely opposed this, saying that the ceremony is an event that allows athletes to interact with each other and demonstrate the spirit of the Olympics. The IOC relies on broadcasting rights fees as its main source of income, and scaling down the opening ceremony, which is expected to draw many viewers, was hard for it to accept, according to the sources.

However, the IOC changed its position as coronavirus infections surged around the world. On Dec. 7, it said that athletes would be asked to arrive at the Olympic Village five days before they compete and leave within two days after their competition finishes, in order to prevent clusters of infection at the village, which can accommodate 18,000 people.

According to the sources, the IOC told the organizing committee that about 6,000 athletes were expected to be at the opening ceremony, as those competing in events to be held during the second half of the Olympics will not have arrived in the village yet.

However, the IOC is considering allowing athletes who are training in host towns and other locations in Japan to participate in the opening ceremony if they want to do so, the sources said.

Published : January 19, 2021

By : The Japan News/ANN