July 9, 2021
TOKYO (Kyodo July 9, 2021) -- Ticket holders for the Tokyo Olympics expressed disappointment Thursday, while corporate sponsors aired dissatisfaction, at organizers' decision to hold competitions in the capital and nearby prefectures without spectators due to a recent spike in coronavirus infections.
"I'm so disappointed," said 69-year-old Masamichi Tamai, who had tickets for five events, including track and field, and tennis. Tamai, who was a spectator at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, added he was looking forward to experiencing the unique atmosphere of the games again.
"They say we're at the beginning of the fifth wave, so who knows what will happen?" he said, "In hindsight, they did it all wrong. I think we could have postponed it for another year, but there was nobody who could plan it."
As the Japanese capital grapples with a resurgence of infections, the government decided Thursday to put Tokyo under a state of emergency from Monday to Aug. 22.
Organizers then decided to stage the Olympics, which begin on July 23, without local fans at venues in Tokyo after having already banned spectators from overseas.
Kyoko Ishikawa, who runs an IT company in Tokyo's Suginami Ward, expressed disappointment at the decision since she finally managed to obtain a ticket for the wrestling competition in the second lottery round.
"It's such a shame (my plans) were interrupted despite the venue being so close to home," said the 51-year-old, who has been an Olympics fan since the 1992 Barcelona Games.
"There must be something we can do together because it's the Olympics. I would like to think of a way to support (the athletes) online with people from all over the world," she added.
Meanwhile, Japanese corporate sponsors for the Tokyo Olympics lamented the latest development.
"We signed on as a sponsor based on the premise there would be spectators, so having no audience was unexpected," Akimasa Yoneda, CEO of travel services company KNT-CT Holdings Co., said just before organizers held a meeting to finalize the policy decision.
Yoneda said the decision would lead to losses for the company, as many firms had expected to be able to capitalize on the major international sporting event after its one-year postponement.
Another travel company official, who asked not to be named, said the firm had come under criticism for planning tour packages for the Tokyo Games.
"We have no choice but to obey the decision and help make the games safe and secure," the official said.
(Photo: Screenshot taken on July 8, 2021, shows Masamichi Tamai, who was looking forward to watching the Tokyo Olympics live, holding up his ticket for a gymnastics competition. )