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World Athletics chief: Athletes should prepare for Olympics without spectators

TOKYO, (SATSports) – World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said here on Wednesday that athletes should be prepared to compete in the Tokyo Olympic venues without spectators.

Coe, who was in Sapporo for an Olympic test event, told reporters at an online press conference, “Everybody, the athletes particularly, will hope for spectators. But they recognize if that is not possible, the games will still take place and the competition will still be extremely good. And athletes need to get used to competing in stadiums where there are not any crowds.”

Overseas spectators will not be allowed to enter Japan during the games and the decision on local spectators, which was originally scheduled to be made at the end of April, will have to be made in June.

“I am guessing the judgment needs to be made at some stage,” he said. “I am sure we will be based on the COVID conditions at the time.

“My position has not changed. We will have to see the prevailing conditions over the next few weeks.”

A half marathon was held in Sapporo, where the Olympic marathon and walking events will occur as an Olympic test event. Due to the worsening situation of COVID-19, a 10-kilometer race open to the public was canceled and the event was held without allowing any spectators from the roadside.

Coe, visiting Japan for the second time in six months, assured the Japanese public that the games would be held safely.

“We take that nervousness (of the Japanese public) very seriously. We have COVID protocols. They have been tried and tested. I have witnessed them this morning. We take very seriously the well-being and security of the local community.”

“But it is also important that when the world looks to come out of COVID pandemic, the games should be delivered successfully and safely.” 

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