Pandemic means no spectators from abroad for Tokyo Olympic Games 

Organisers inform International Olympic Committee, International Paralympic Committee of decision taken with safety in mind

By Shintaro Kano
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Hosts of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games on Saturday (20 March) told the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) that they will not allow overseas spectators to enter Japan for this summer's Games.

The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and the national and metropolitan governments shared the decision during a virtual meeting that included IOC President Thomas Bach and IPC President Andrew Parsons.

The IOC and IPC announced that they fully respect and accept this conclusion.

“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,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “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.”

Tickets will be refunded

"I have had the opportunity to experience the Olympic Games as an athlete on a number of occasions and it is nothing short of disappointing that we will not be able to welcome fans from overseas", Tokyo 2020 President Hashimoto Seiko said during a press conference following the meeting.

"But to ensure the safety and security of the Japanese public, athletes and Games participants from all over the world, this was a conclusion we had to make.

IOC President Bach, IPC President Parsons were also extremely disappointed but were equally understanding of our position when we had to prioritise safety and security".

The Japanese parties were forced to make the call given the current situation of the Covid-19 pandemic not only at home but in other countries around the world.

Japan decided to move on Saturday to give foreign ticket-holders ample time to adjust travel plans and confirmed that tickets purchased from Tokyo 2020 will be refunded. Further details about the refunding policy will be communicated at a later date.

Tokyo 2020 CEO Muto Toshiro said about 600,000 tickets have been sold abroad for the Olympics, 30,000 for the Paralympics.

Hashimoto also said the five parties agreed to decide on crowd capacity for the Games next month.

Accredited Games participants coming to Japan will be required to follow the Tokyo 2020 Playbooks for their respective stakeholder group. A second version of the Playbooks will be released in April.

The Tokyo Olympic Games will open on 23 July.