Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Monday the Tokyo Olympics may be held without spectators if the COVID-19 situation in Japan worsens and he has to declare another state of emergency.
Suga has said he wants fans in the stands at the Olympics, set to begin July 23. Organizers including the government and the International Olympic Committee are set to make a decision later in the day on how many spectators to allow.
Holding the games without spectators is "definitely a possibility," Suga told reporters while visiting a vaccination site in the capital. "I think that's obvious from the standpoint of making safety and security our utmost priority."
A state of emergency covering Tokyo and eight other prefectures ended Sunday, with the areas shifting to looser restrictions under a quasi-state of emergency until July 11.
The government has set an attendance cap of 10,000 people or 50 percent of venue capacity, whichever is lower, for large events in prefectures where either of those measures are lifted.
But Suga's top COVID-19 adviser, Shigeru Omi, and other infectious disease experts last week warned that the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics could contribute to infections spreading and said holding the games without spectators is the safest option.