Tokyo 2020 Confirms Olympics Will Go Ahead Without Overseas Spectators

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The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will go ahead without overseas spectators because of the pandemic, Tokyo 2020 organisers confirmed on Saturday.

While reports earlier this month had indicated this would be the case, it has now been made official following a decision by the organising bodies during a remote meeting involving five parties, including the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee.

The meeting was attended by IOC president Thomas Bach, Seiko Hashimoto – the Tokyo 2020 chief – IPC head Andrew Parsons, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike and Japan’s Olympic minister Tamayo Marukawa.

The Olympics are scheduled to open on 23 July with the Paralympics set to follow from 24 August, a year after Tokyo 2020 was slated to take place but was instead pushed back a year because of the pandemic.


The Olympic Rings in Tokyo. Photo Courtesy: Tokyo 2020

A statement from the Tokyo 2020 organisers read:

“Currently, the COVID-19 situation in Japan and many other countries around the world is still very challenging and a number of variant strains have emerged, whilst international travel remains severely restricted globally.

“Based on the present situation of the pandemic, it is highly unlikely that entry into Japan will be guaranteed this summer for people from overseas.

“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.

“This conclusion will further contribute to ensure safe and secure Games for all participants and the Japanese public.

“In line with their principle of safety first for all participants and out of respect for all the parties on the Japanese side, the IOC and IPC announced in today’s Five Parties meeting that they fully respect and accept this conclusion.

“Under these circumstances, ticketholders from overseas will soon be informed of the refund mechanism.

“We will continue to deliver a safe and secure Games in the hopes that they will be a light of hope.”

The IOC said:

“For the reason of the safety of every Games participant and the Japanese people, their conclusion is fully respected and accepted by the IOC and the IPC.”

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Thomas Bach, IOC president – Photo Courtesy: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Bach added:

“We share the disappointment of all enthusiastic Olympic fans from around the world, and of course the families and friends of the athletes, who were planning to come to the Games.

“For this I am truly sorry. We know that this is a great sacrifice for everybody. We have said from the very beginning of this pandemic that it will require sacrifices.

“But we have also said that the first principle is safety. Every decision has to respect the principle of safety first. I know that our Japanese partners and friends did not reach this conclusion lightly.

“Together with them, the IOC’s top priority was, is and remains to organise safe Olympic and Paralympic Games for everyone: all the participants and, of course, our gracious hosts, the Japanese people.

“We stand shoulder-to-shoulder at the side of our Japanese partners and friends, without any kind of reservation, to make the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 a great success.

“Together with our Rights-Holding Broadcasters, we will make every effort so that the fans from around the world will be able to experience the Olympic spirit.

“In this way, the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be the light at the end of the tunnel and a safe manifestation of peace, solidarity and the resilience of humankind in overcoming the pandemic.”


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