More Japanese government officials and Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics organizers are inclined to allow a certain number of spectators at this summer's games if thorough anti-coronavirus measures are taken, sources close to the matter said Saturday.
The sources' remarks come just two months before the opening of the Olympics on July 23, and despite growing public calls for canceling the events due to skepticism about the ability of the organizers to contain the spread of the virus.
The Japanese capital has been under a state of emergency since late April amid a fourth wave of infections.
The organizers are scheduled to decide next month on the number of spectators by considering the infection situation and other factors.
There are concerns that allowing spectators will increase foot traffic outside venues, meaning additional countermeasures will be required.
The sources also said the no-spectator option will likely be maintained until the last minute should there be a rapid deterioration of the infection situation.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga favors having spectators, with a source close to his office confirming that measures are being considered to allow fans in the stands.
When declaring the ongoing state of emergency in late April, the government set a basic policy of not allowing spectators at major events in affected areas.
That was relaxed when the state of emergency was extended on May 7, with attendance to be capped at 5,000 people or 50 percent of venue capacity.
Adding to the push to have spectators is the track record of pro baseball and pro soccer in admitting fans without significant trouble, and the need, demonstrated in Olympic test events, for fans in the stands.
"The discussion about having no spectators is over, and now the main avenue of consideration is how many we can allow in," said an official who has a central role in preparing the games.
However, if the number of spectators is to be limited, a lottery to select from among ticket holders will be necessary. The preparations needed for such a step mean there is not much time left before it needs to begin.
There are also opinions that "the games should go ahead without spectators to ease the burden on operations, and concentrate on infection countermeasures for athletes and stakeholders."
Issues surrounding the effect of hot weather on spectators are also among those that remain unresolved.
In March, the government and organizers decided to prohibit non-resident spectators. A decision on limiting domestic fans was to be made in April, but that has now been put off until June due to surges in the numbers of infections.