Tokyo Olympics without fans a 'definite possibility', concedes Japanese prime minister Suga

By Sports Desk June 21, 2021

The Tokyo Olympics could take place with no spectators in attendance if the Japanese capital is placed into another state of emergency, the nation's prime minister Yoshihide Suga has said.

Japan is moving ahead with plans to host the Games, which were postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, despite strong public opposition and warnings from health officials that crowds could lead to increased infection rates.

International fans are already banned from attending, with a decision on domestic spectators due to be taken on Monday.

On Sunday, the state of emergency that had been imposed on Tokyo and eight other prefectures was lifted, though looser restrictions remain in place until July 11.

Speaking to reporters at a vaccination centre, Suga said: "In the event a state of emergency was declared then we can't rule out not having spectators.

"I think that's obvious from the standpoint of making safety and security our utmost priority."

There were 376 new positive tests for COVID-19 reported in Tokyo on Sunday, an increase on the 304 a week prior. The seven-day average in the capital also rose to 388 from 384.1.

Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto and Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto are due to hold a news conference later on Monday after the culmination of talks surrounding domestic fans.

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    However, Gittens' path has not been without its challenges. Following her successful collegiate career, which culminated in gold in the heptathlon despite an ankle injury, Gittens faced a setback in 2023 with a retroactive drug suspension due to an expired Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) certificate. This suspension not only affected her competitive results but also tested her resolve and commitment to the sport she loves.

    In an exclusive interview with Sportsmax.TV, Gittens opened up about the hurdles she faced in recent years and her journey towards redemption as she prepares for the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris.

    “It has been a process, I will tell you,” Gittens shared when asked about her preparation. “I feel like this year has been a year of rebuilding. I’m in a new body and a new mindset. I’ve never been in this mindset, never been in this body, so I am excited to see what my limits are. I think something big is going to happen this year.”

    Transitioning from the demanding heptathlon to specializing in the long jump has required adjustments in Gittens' training regimen. "My training has been different because I am no longer doing the heptathlon," she explained. "I've been learning different techniques in the long jump and also on the track, finally learning how to sprint. I feel like I’ve fallen into a very professional body, not just college."

    Gittens’ post-collegiate journey was not without bumps in the road. The year 2023 began well enough with the USA-based Trinidadian signing a professional contract with Puma but barely a month later, things took a downward turn.

    World Athletics’ Athletics Integrity United (AIU) ruled that she was ineligible to compete for six months after a sample she provided in June 2022 was found to contain methylphenidate/ritalinic acid, a prohibited substance that is an ingredient of the medication she takes for ADHD. At the time the sample was taken, Gittens’ TUE had expired.

     However, the AIU said it accepted that she had not realized that her previous TUE had expired by the time that the first sample was taken at the national Trinidad and Tobago championships on June 26, 2022.

    “She was not advised that the TTO Sample was positive for methylphenidate, or that her TUE had expired for this purpose, until November 2022, after the sample collected from her at the World Championships on July 23, 2022,” the AIU said adding that they also accepted that Gittens had no information at the time of her second World Athletics sample that her TUE application was incomplete.

    “The AIU also accepts that the medication was used for legitimate medical reasons and the athlete did not intend to cheat. Accordingly, the AIU accepts that the violation was not ‘intentional’.”

    It was a blot on her resume that she could have done without and one that was hard for her to take.

    Reflecting on the challenges of her suspension and the mental toll it took, Gittens likened it to one of the toughest periods of her life. "It was probably the hardest thing I ever had to deal with," she admitted. "I always compare it to the year I lost my brother. This period of my life, these last two years, that was definitely second."

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    "I would say Trinidad and Tobago is a melting pot of the Caribbean. We have very diverse people and a mixture of cultures when it comes to food, music, and everything like that. It’s definitely a really great country," Richards said, highlighting the vibrant cultural tapestry that shapes his identity and fuels his passion for track and field.

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