Tokyo Olympics: International spectators to be barred from events

Last Updated: Sunday, 21 March 2021 (12:14 IST)
Fans who travel from abroad to attend events at the Tokyo Olympic Games will be barred from entry due to risks, organizers announced on Saturday.

“In order to give clarity to ticket holders living overseas and to enable 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 into Japan at the time of the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” the Tokyo 2020 organising body said in a statement.
 
The International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee “fully respect and accept this conclusion”, the statement added.
 
The games were delayed from 2020 after the coronavirus outbreak. Organizers plan to go ahead with the events this year, despite continued high levels of infections.
 
Tickets to be refunded
 
The move had been expected for several months. Nevertheless, around 1 million tickets have already been sold to fans overseas.
 
The Olympic organizers promised refunds to ticket holders who would no longer be allowed to attend. However, the refunds will be dealt with by authorized ticket resellers who charge fees up to 20%. It was not clear if the fees would be included in the refunds.
 
President of the organizing committee, Seiko Hashimoto, said that they had made the decision so as not to wait any longer and inconvenience visitors who have to organize accommodation and flights. “I know this is a very tough issue,” he said.
 
Some 4.45 million tickets have been sold to residents of Japan. Organizers are expected to announce the capacity of various venues next month.
 
Fears of imported cases
 
The games were moved to this year and are set to start on July 23. The torch relay will set off from Fukushima on March 25 and will follow a strict hygiene protocol.
 
Japan was hit relatively lightly by the coronavirus pandemic, recording around 8,800 COVID-19 related deaths. The country is currently grappling with the tail-end of a third wave of infections.
 
Organizers considered the risk of allowing fans from around the world into the country to be too high.
 
Polls showed that the majority of the Japanese public were also in favor of barring people from abroad.
 
The 15,400 athletes taking part in the games will be tested before leaving their countries, again on arrival, and then frequently while residing in “bubbles” inside the Olympic village. Vaccinations are not a requirement.