Overseas spectators will be prohibited from attending the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the games' organizing committee announced Saturday, a move they hope will mitigate the concerns of Japanese citizens over the risk that the games will seed Covid-19 outbreaks.
- The Tokyo Organizing Committee made the decision jointly with national and local governments in Japan and the International Olympic and Paralympic Committees.
- According to the organizers, approximately 600,000 tickets were sold overseas, although the Associated Press reported that number is closer to 1 million.
- The Tokyo Organizing Committee asserted that refunds for tickets would be issued, but Tokyo 2020 Chief Executive Officer Toshiro Muto said cancellation fees related to airline travel and accommodations previously booked would not be covered.
- Muto said a determination on capacity limits at venues for domestic spectators would be made before the end of next month.
The 2020 Games were postponed by a year due to the pandemic. Although Japan has managed the pandemic better than most countries, with fewer than 460,000 confirmed cases and 9,000 deaths nationwide, Japanese are not in favor of proceeding with hosting the Olympics. About 80% of Japanese believe the games, which are scheduled to begin in July, should be postponed again or canceled altogether, according to a survey by national broadcaster NHK. Some 15,400 athletes will enter Japan to compete, in addition to coaches, officials, sponsors and members of the media.
"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 organizing committee said in a statement.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The torch relay for the games will begin Thursday in Fukushima Prefecture and will last four months, with roughly 10,000 runners traversing the country. It will conclude at National Stadium in Tokyo during the opening ceremony, scheduled to take place on July 23.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced the government planned to lift the state of emergency in Tokyo on Sunday. "Fifty percent of hospital beds were occupied when the state of emergency was declared [in January], but the current situation is different," Suga said Wednesday, adding, "The utilization rate of hospital beds has improved to the point that the state of emergency can be lifted." On Thursday, the Japanese government's advisory panel on coronavirus countermeasures approved the plan.