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Japan's decision on Olympic fans sparks concern, surprise in U.S.

Tokyo Games organizers are allowing up to 10,000 "local fans" to attend each event at the Summer Olympics, provided that does not exceed 50% of the venue's capacity, but spectators will not be "allowed to cheer and will have to wear masks," according to CBS’ Michelle Miller. Fans "won’t have to prove they’re COVID free." This comes after Japan's top medical adviser, Dr. Shigeru Omi, "had recommended fans be kept out to try and prevent the spread of COVID-19." Miller: "Only 6% of Japan's population has been fully vaccinated. If you ask me, that would be the secret to keeping the spread down.” CBS’ Anthony Mason said the low vaccination number “shocks me” (“CBS This Morning,” 6/21). NBC’s Savannah Guthrie noted the decision to allow fans “contradicts the country’s top medical advisor.” NBC’s Hoda Kotb: “A very fluid situation over there” (“Today,” NBC, 6/21).

UPDATED SALES PROCESS: REUTERS' Slodkowski & Park note ticket holders in Japan "have been given a chance to ask for refunds because of the one-year postponement to the Games." Organizers today said that 840,000 tickets "had been refunded so far, out of a total of 4.48 million sold through the initial lottery." Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said that because of the new limits, there will be a "fresh lottery to whittle down the number of spectators to 2.72 million," meaning about 910,000 ticket holders "will lose their chance to see the Games." Muto added that the lottery "would be conducted through an electronic system without human involvement." Muto indicated that the revenue from ticket sales "would amount to less than half" of the projected US$817M. Organizers "will discuss with the national and Tokyo governments on how to make up for the shortfall" (REUTERS, 6/21).

OLIVER'S TAKE: HBO's John Oliver: "While I don’t know what the target percentage should be to safely host the Olympics, I'm pretty sure that right now it should be higher than the number of entries in the ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise. So, it’s frankly no wonder that polls have shown many of the Japanese public oppose holding the Games this year.” The Olympics “going ahead is undeniably risky, but the organizers seem to be considering a lot of different factors, with many being financial, especially as Japan has already officially spent over $15 billion on these Games, with government audits suggesting it’s actually twice that much." Oliver: "Japan doesn’t technically have the authority to cancel the Games, which is kind of weird. It would be like if your child got the flu and you tried to reschedule their birthday party, only to get overruled by the clown you hired. ... Despite protests, it seems like the Olympics are going ahead, and all of this is a good reminder that hosting the Olympics is just never a good idea for a city. ... You can’t help feeling that that main motivator in this event taking place is money” (“Last Week Tonight,” HBO, 6/20).

SBJ Spotlight: TikTok’s threat to traditional sports media

While tech companies are consumed with finding ways to compete with TikTok, almost no one in conventional media “spends any time talking about it,” said Recode senior correspondent Peter Kafka in an Spotlight interview with SBJ’s John Ourand. “To me, that’s just an obvious disconnect.” Kafka authored a recent column headlined, “It’s TikTok’s world. Can TV live in it?” He said the main response to TikTok’s growth from traditional media execs has been to “punt and hope it’s someone else’s problem a quarter from now or two years from now.” But Kafka said that ignores the trend of conventional broadcast audiences growing older while a billion younger consumers spend most of their media time watching short video after short video. “If you’re in the business of getting anyone under the age of 30 to look at what you’re putting on a screen, you have to think about the fact that you’re probably asking them to put down TikTok and watch your thing instead,” said Kafka. “That’s a very difficult ask. … [TikTok] is insanely addictive.”

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