Tokyo Olympics Latest Updates: Fans Banned in Tokyo, Could Be Present for Events in Other Parts of Japan

Live Updates
  • Japan's state of emergency declaration, scheduled to last through the Summer Games, prompted the decision to ban spectators from events.
  • Tokyo is among the areas seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases just two weeks before the Games being on July 23. On Thursday, the capital reported 896 new cases.
  • Some athletes arriving in Japan for training ahead of the Games have tested positive for the virus, prompting their entire national delegation to isolate.

With the Summer Olympics Games set to begin in two weeks, organizers announced that there will not be any spectators during most events, though those held outside Tokyo could remain open to fans.

Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa made the announcement about spectators on Thursday, hours after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga placed the Kanto region, which includes Tokyo, under a state of emergency declaration. It goes into effect on Monday and will last through August 22, after the Tokyo Olympics come to a close.

The Tokyo Paralympics are scheduled to begin on August 24.

The latest state of emergency marks the fourth one issued to the capital city since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In recent days, Japan has seen a steady uptick in new COVID cases, Tokyo reported 896 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, up from 673 a week earlier. Thursday marked the 19th straight day that cases have exceeded the number from a week prior.

"The number of severe cases and bed occupancy rate continues to be on the low level, but considering the impact of variants, we need to enhance countermeasures so that the infection will not spread nationwide," Suga said Thursday.

The decision to ban fans from the Games is a matter of safety, organizers said, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the capital.

"The priority will be to determine safe and secure Games," Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto said at a news conference following a meeting with officials from the Tokyo and Japanese governments, the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee.

"We wanted [a] full stadium so community people could get involved in welcoming the athletes so we could have a full presentation of the power of sports," she added. "However, now faced with COVID-19, we have no other choice but to hold the Games in a limited way."

Foreign fans were banned in March. On June 21, organizers said there would be a limited number of spectators allowed in Olympic venues, with capacity capped at 50 percent and a maximum of 10,000 fans.

Two members of the Ugandan Olympic Team and one member of the Serbian team tested positive for COVID-19 upon their arrival in Japan.

At least 10,000 of the 80,000 people who volunteered to help out at the Games quit, mostly due to concerns over the pandemic.

Tokyo Olympics Venue
The logo of Tokyo 2020 is displayed at the National Stadium, main venue for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo on July 7, 2021. The Games will be held under a state of emergency without fans as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Tokyo. KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images

This is a breaking news story and will be updated with additional information below.

Petition to reinstate Sha'Carri Richardson gains over 560,000 signatures

Over a half-million people have signed a petition to reinstate Sha'Carri Richardson to Team USA for the Tokyo Olympics after her removal from competition for smoking marijuana.

As of Thursday, the petition, started by progressive lobbying group MoveOn Civic Action, has over 562,000 signatures. It is addressed to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The USADA suspended Richardson for 30 days and invalidated her qualifying performance in the 100-meter dash at the Olympic Trials after she tested positive for THC. Marijuana is one of several drugs on the USADA's list of banned substances.

Richardson was also left off the 4x100 relay team by USA Track and Field.

I’m sorry, I can’t be y’all Olympic Champ this year but I promise I’ll be your World Champ next year 🤞🏽⚡️.

— Sha’Carri Richardson (@itskerrii) July 4, 2021

The petition urges the WADA to update what it calls "an outdated and arbitrarily enforced rule."

"In no world is marijuana a performance-enhancing drug for runners, and in more places in the United States and around the world, marijuana use is legal," the petition reads. "The United States Anti-Doping Agency should drop their penalty and allow Richardson to compete."

The petition also noted that marijuana is legal in many states and the realities of how drug laws in the United Stated disproportionately impact people of color.

"Recreational marijuana use has been de facto legal for upper-middle-class white people for years—something more states are recognizing as they legalize marijuana for all people and consider how to repair the damage done to Black and brown communities by decades of the 'war on drugs,'" the petition reads.

39 House Republicans pen letter to Olympic Committee over athlete protests

House Republicans expressed their concern to the U.S. Olympic Committee over Team U.S. athletes who will protest in Tokyo.

"We are deeply concerned by the growing trend of American athletes taking advantage of the international platform afforded by the Olympic games to perpetuate divisive, hateful and anti-American ideologies," Montana Representative Matt Rosendale wrote in the letter to U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee Chair Susanne Lyons and CEO Sarah Hirshland.

Thirty-nine House lawmakers signed the letter, including Dan Crenshaw of Texas, Debbie Lesko of Arizona, Jim Banks of Indiana, Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina and Lauren Boebert of Colorado.

The letter references hammer thrower Gwen Berry, who turned away from the American flag on the podium of the U.S. Olympic Trials while the national anthem played.

The letter quoted Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter, which covers advertising, demonstrations and propaganda.

The rule states that "no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other area."

"It is our hope that members of the U.S. Olympic Team will stop abusing their platform to spout shameful anti-American rhetoric, and that all athletes representing the United States of America at the Olympic games this summer will do so proudly and patriotically," the letter concluded.

Officials will wait to determine if Paralympics will have fans

Olympic and Tokyo officials said they will wait to decide if spectators will be allowed at the Paralympic Games.

In a joint statement between the Government of Japan, the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, officials said they will hold off on making the decision until the Olympic Games are over.

The decision to ban fans from Olympic venues came after a state of emergency was enacts amid rising COVID-19 infections in Tokyo.

"For this reason, the decision regarding the admission of Paralympic event spectators will now be taken when the Olympic Games end," the statement said.

In the event of a "significant change" in the state of COVID-19 infections, officials will meet to review spectator capacity.

"The decision regarding the admission of Paralympic event spectators will now be taken when the Olympic Games end."

The IOC and IPC, respecting this decision, support it in the interest of safe and secure Games for everybody.#Paralympics #Tokyo2020https://t.co/wDC6fHyoWd

— Paralympic Games (@Paralympics) July 8, 2021

In light of these new emergency measures, the statement added that "all five parties deeply regret for the athletes and for the spectators that this measure had to be put in place."

The state of emergency declared for Tokyo is set to end on August 22, two days before the Paralympic opening ceremony.

FINA to reconsider ban on swim cap for Black natural hair

After facing backlash, the International Swimming Federation (FINA), will reconsider its decision to ban swim caps designed for Black athletes with natural hair.

FINA did not approve the design from Soul Cap, a British company, for competition ahead of the Tokyo Games.

"FINA is committed to ensuring that all aquatics athletes have access to appropriate swimwear for competition where this swimwear does not confer a competitive advantage," the group said in a statement posted on its website Wednesday.

The organization said it is "currently reviewing the situation with regards to 'Soul Cap' and similar products, understanding the importance of inclusivity and representation."

FINA said it will consider Soul Cap and other similar products as part of an initiative aimed at "ensuring there are no barriers to participation in swimming."

Soul Cap said this move by FINA was a "positive step."

"Our hope is that these wider initiatives mentioned will engage with and support grassroots organizations that advocate for and deliver swim education to underrepresented communities," a Soul Cap spokesperson told TMRW in an email. "We would not have got to this point without voices like these in the community supporting us, we hope it's recognized that they're integral in creating effective and lasting change."

Fauci says there is "no reason" why Jill Biden can't attend Olympics

There is "no reason" why first lady Jill Biden can't attend the Tokyo Olympic Games, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday.

"That's going to be up to the first lady," Fauci said in response to a question from CNN's Kaitlan Collins. "I believe that there's no reason right now, given the situation, the protocol to protect her health I think will be also rather stringent, so I don't have a concern about that, but the final choice of what she'd do, obviously, is up to her."

Dr. Fauci says there's no reason First Lady Jill Biden can't still attend the Tokyo Olympics (as has been under discussion) despite the new state of emergency, but says that decision will, of course, be up to her office.

— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) July 8, 2021

Even with the latest state of emergency in place in Tokyo, Fauci said there were "quite strict and stringent" protocols in place for athletes.

The White House reaffirmed its support for U.S. athletes to travel to Japan to compete in the Tokyo Games.

"The president supports the Tokyo Olympic Games and the public health measures necessary to protect athletes, staff, and spectators." White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Thursday. "He has pride in the U.S. athletes who have trained for Tokyo Games and will be competing in the best traditions of the Olympic spirit."

Psaki said the White House is in "close contact" with the Japanese government on planning and public health measures.

"We're well aware of the careful preparations, including the public health measures necessary to protect athletes, staff, and spectators, that the government and international committee has undertaken, which is why, as we said, we support the games moving forward," Psaki added.

Japan Emperor Naruhito's Olympic plans are still "to be determined"

Plans are still under consideration for the Japanese Emperor Naruhito during the Tokyo Olympics.

Emperor Naruhito serves as the Olympic's honorary president and has the privilege of declaring the Games open.

However, with the opening ceremony only 15 days away, Naruhito's itinerary for the Olympics remains "to be determined," according to his top aide.

"We are in the process of scheduling," Yasuhiko Nishimura, head of the Imperial Household Agency, said at a news conference Thursday. "I have nothing to say about it at the moment."

Nishimura said plans for Naruhito's opening statement, a feast at the Imperial Palace and the attendance of the imperial family at any events are still "up in the air."

Two weeks ago, Nishimura said the emperor was concerned about holing the Games amid the pandemic.

"From what I gather, the emperor is concerned about holding the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, for which he serves as honorary president, while people are voicing anxiety over whether it will lead to a spread of infections," Nishimura said at a news conference June 24.

He later clarified his statement, saying "I just want thorough countermeasures to prevent infections to be implemented in conjunction with the holding of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. That's all."

13 athletes will represent Ghana at the Tokyo Games

Tripple jumper Nadia Eke will be the flagbearer for Team Ghana at the opening ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympics.

Eke is a Columbia University graduate and qualified for the 2020 Summer Olympics in women's triple jump with a jump of 14.33m in the 2019 Racers/Adidas Grand Prix in Jamaica.

This is Eke's first Olympics.

In total, 13 athletes will represent Ghana in Tokyo this summer.

Boxing has the most representatives with three athletes – Skipper Suleman Tetteh (Flyweight), Samuel Takyi (Featherweight) and Shakul Samed (Light Heavyweight).

Ghana's men's 4x100 team, comprised of Sean Safo-Antwi, Benjamin Azamati, Joseph Manu and Joseph Paul Amoah, finished second in their heat at the Olympic qualifiers in Poland in May.

This is the first time Ghana's 4x100 men's relay team has qualified for the Olympic Games since 2004.

YESSSSSSS!!!

Ghana book an automatic Olympic Games ticket in the Men’s 4x100m Relays.

A second place finish in their Heats takes them to the final and Tokyo.

Absolutely flying second and final legs from Azamati and Joe Paul. #Citisports

— Fentuo Tahiru Fentuo (@Fentuo_) May 1, 2021

Benjamin Azamati and Joseph Paul Amoah also qualified for the 100-meter and 200-meter races, respectfully.

The rest of the roster includes Emmanuel Yeboah, Christian Amoah, weightlifting, Kwadjo Anani, Judo, Abeku Jackson, 100-meter butterfly, and Unilez Takyi, 50-meter freestyle.