The organizers of the Tokyo Paralympics are looking into holding competitions without spectators at most venues, as was the case with the Olympics, due to surging COVID-19 cases in the Japanese capital, several officials familiar with the matter said Thursday.
The Japanese government and other organizers of the Paralympics, slated to begin Aug. 24 with up to 4,400 athletes from around the world, will make a formal decision next week, the officials said.
International Paralympic Committee chief Andrew Parsons is scheduled to arrive in Japan on Monday.
The organizers are eyeing staging events behind closed doors at venues located in Tokyo and neighboring Saitama and Chiba prefectures, which are currently under a coronavirus state of emergency, according to the officials.
Regarding Shizuoka, where cycling events will be held, the organizers are looking into the idea of allowing a maximum of 5,000 spectators as long as the number does not exceed 50 percent of the venues' capacity, the officials said.
The Olympics, which concluded Sunday, and the Paralympics were delayed for one year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the start of the Olympics on July 23, the daily number of COVID-19 cases has more than doubled in Tokyo, driven by the more contagious Delta variant of the virus.
The daily count hit a record high of 5,042 on Aug. 5 in the capital, which has been under its fourth state of emergency since mid-July, and Japan's cumulative total of infections topped 1 million recently.
For the staging of the Paralympics, enhanced COVID-19 measures are deemed necessary as some athletes have underlying health conditions and could be more vulnerable to the virus.
The organizers are still discussing whether to allow students participating in school programs to enter the venues, even if the Paralympics are held behind closed doors.
At the Paralympics, athletes will compete in 539 medal events in 22 sports, including track and field, judo, swimming, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis.
Badminton and taekwondo will make their Paralympic debuts.
The Paralympics will close on Sept. 5. As of June, 168 countries and regions had been awarded at least one qualification slot for the games. Until now, the biggest number of Paralympic bodies to compete at a games was 164 in London in 2012.