Kazuhiro Nogi / AFP via Getty Images
This year’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be held without any foreign spectators after organizers decided to ban international fans from attending events due to concerns about COVID-19.
The decision was made during a virtual meeting of various stakeholders on Saturday.
“Based on the current pandemic situation, it is unlikely that entry from Japan this summer will be guaranteed to people from abroad,” the Olympic organizing committee said in a statement. statement. “In order to give clarity to ticket holders living abroad and allow them to adjust their travel plans at this stage, the parties on the Japanese side have come to the conclusion that they will not be able to enter Japan during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
The International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee said they fully respect and accept the move.
“We need to make decisions that may need everyone’s sacrifices,” IOC President Thomas Bach said he said.
Overseas fans who have purchased tickets for the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games will receive a refund. More information on the return mechanism will be available in the future, the statement said.
Prior to last year’s postponement, organizers in Tokyo said they had sold approximately 4.5 million Olympic tickets to residents of Japan and 970,000 for the Paralympic Games.
There were no detailed figures for buying tickets from abroad, but Hidenori Suzuki, deputy executive director of marketing of the organizing committee, said the Associated Press that international sales represent 10-20% of total turnover.
Skepticism about holding games is widespread in Japan. As NPR’s Anthony Kuhn reported in January, public opinion is turning against the Olympics.
“A recent survey by national broadcaster NHK found that approximately 80% of Japanese believe that games should be canceled or postponed,” Kuhn reported.
The postponement of the Olympic Games also affected the bottom of the organizers. Kuhn reported that costs jumped 22% to about $ 15.5 billion, according to some estimates, making Tokyo the most expensive games ever recorded.
Japan, which has a population of 126 million, fought the pandemic better than many other countries, with 8,700 deaths attributed to COVID-19.
The opening ceremony of the Olympic Games is scheduled for July 23, and the Paralympics should start on August 24.