Olympics will ban spectators after Japan declares a state of emergency

A man wearing a face mask stands behind the Olympic symbols of the five intertwined rings, pictured near the National Stadium in Tokyo.

James Matsumoto, SOPA Pictures | LightRakete | Getty Images

The organizers of the Olympic Games are banning all spectators from the Games this year after Japan declared a state of emergency designed to contain a wave of new Covid-19 infections, Reuters reported on Thursday.

It is the latest setback for the Summer Olympics, which has already been postponed by a year, which resulted in high costs for the postponement. The state of emergency begins July 12th and lasts until August 22nd, while the games are scheduled from July 23rd to August 8th.

The organizers had already excluded international viewers from participating and set a ceiling for domestic viewers at 50% of capacity or up to 10,000 people.

There is immense pressure to contain the spread of the virus at the Games to protect both athletes and neighboring regions. More than 11,000 participants are expected to travel to Japan to compete, along with thousands of officials and staff who will also attend.

Nationwide, Japan has reported about 811,000 coronavirus cases and more than 14,800 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. However, the country faced a relatively slow adoption of the vaccine. According to Reuters, only about a quarter of the population has received at least one COVID-19 vaccination.

Adaptation to no fans

NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC, plans to show more than 7,000 hours of content from the Tokyo Olympics through its networks and streaming platforms. Now NBC has to grapple with whether viewers notice the difference without viewers.

Sports venues around the world were customized without fans during the pandemic and often used digital seats to indicate some form of attendance. US professional leagues like the National Football League and Major League Baseball have also incorporated artificial noise into their broadcasts to mimic the noise of the crowd.

It is difficult to get viewers involved in sports broadcasts without viewers, so NBC could use the technology to improve production. In 2014, the media giant and the International Olympic Committee agreed on a $ 7.75 billion media rights deal to extend their partnership. The current agreement runs until 2032.

Still, an Olympics without fans will destroy ticket revenue for the IOC. According to an IOC annual report, more than six million tickets were sold for the 2016 Rio Games, raising approximately $ 1.2 billion.

Due to the delays, the budget of the games is already estimated at 15.4 billion, according to Reuters

Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal owns NBC Sports and NBC Olympics. NBC Olympics owns the U.S. broadcast rights to all Summer and Winter Games through 2032.

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