Japan's top government spokesman left open the possibility Sunday of holding the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer without spectators should the coronavirus pandemic worsen, as public concern persists over staging such large events.
"If we see an increase in the number of coronavirus infections, the basic rule is to take the necessary measures and deal with the Olympics in the same way as other events," Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said on a TV program around a month before the games kick off.
All eyes are on the final decision by games organizers on how many domestic spectators will be allowed, based on the Japanese government's spectator cap for large events. Overseas fans have already been barred.
The government has said it will allow up to 10,000 people at events such as sports games and concerts in areas that are not under a COVID-19 state of emergency or a quasi-emergency, as long as they do not surpass 50 percent of venue capacity.
Representatives from five organizing bodies of the games, including the Japanese and Tokyo metropolitan governments and the International Olympic Committee, could meet as early as Monday.
The Olympics are due to begin July 23 and the Paralympics will start on Aug. 24.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday expressed his intent to hold the games with spectators, while several officials related to the games have said the organizing bodies are considering leaving open the possibility of no-spectator games depending on the coronavirus situation.