No overseas spectators at Tokyo Games: ‘the first principle is safety’

  • Overseas spectators will not be allowed at this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games, owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Tokyo organisers announced on Saturday (20 March) that they made the call now to give people clarity and time to adjust their travel plans. Tickets will be refunded.

    Organisers said in December that they would make a decision in the spring on whether to accept overseas spectators, and this week agreed that the global Covid situation is too challenging to give the green light.

    “In many ways the Tokyo 2020 Games will be completely different to any previous Games. However, the [essence] of the Games will remain unchanged, as athletes give their utmost and inspire the world with transcendent performances,” said Tokyo 2020 president Hashimoto Seiko.

    “We are currently working on specific plans to share support remotely from around the world and help bring people together in ways suited to our current times. Even if you are no longer able to come to Japan this summer, we hope very much that you will continue to support the Tokyo 2020 Games.”

    A statement from the organisers said the Covid situation in Japan and many other countries is still “very challenging” and “a number of variant strains have emerged”, while 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,” said the statement.

    “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 statement concluded: “We will continue to do our utmost to deliver a safe and secure Games in the hopes that the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be a light of hope for people all over the world.”

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    International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said the IOC and International Paralympic Committee 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,” he said.

    “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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