Overseas spectators will not be permitted to attend this summer’s rearranged Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, officials have confirmed.
An announcement was made following a meeting of the International Olympic Committee, International Paralympic Committee, Tokyo metropolitan government, the Tokyo 2020 organising committee and the government of Japan on Saturday.
The decision, which was not unexpected, is due to continuing uncertainty amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with international travel restricted and variant coronavirus strains emerging.
Japan is unlikely to be open to foreign tourists by the summer and it was felt some clarification over this matter should be given now.
A joint statement from the five parties involved in the meeting 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.”
The Olympic Games, which were originally scheduled to take place last year, are due to begin on July 23 and end on August 8. The Paralympics take place from August 24-September 5.
The statement added that tickets purchased overseas through official channels will be refunded.
IOC president Thomas Bach said: “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.”