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Overseas fans barred from Tokyo 2020

Overseas spectators will not be permitted to attend this summer’s rescheduled Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, it has been confirmed.

The decision was made on Saturday following a meeting between the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, the Government of Japan, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee.

The announcement has been made amid ongoing concerns relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and all tickets purchased by overseas fans will now be refunded. The rescheduled Olympics are scheduled to take place from July 23 to August 8, with the Paralympics to follow from August 24 to September 5.

The news of overseas fans being barred from attending the Games was first reported by Japanese news agency Kyodo earlier this month and the decision has now been ratified.

In a statement, Tokyo 2020 said the current COVID-19 situation in Japan and “many other countries” is still challenging, with a number of variant strains having emerged. Tokyo 2020 also cited international travel restrictions as a reason for overseas fans being barred from the Games.

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

“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.”

The IOC and IPC have fully accepted the decision by the Japanese authorities to ban overseas fans. IOC president Thomas Bach said that while the body shares the disappointment of fans, he acknowledged that the safety of spectators and athletes is the “first principle”.

Bach added: “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.”

IPC president Andrew Parsons said: “It goes without saying that in an ideal world we would prefer to have international spectators at the Games, allowing families, friends and fans to cheer on their loved ones and all athletes.

“But at the moment we must acknowledge that due to the global pandemic we are not living in an ideal world. As a result, some difficult decisions, which we fully appreciate will leave many disappointed, need to be made to further contribute to ensure safe and secure Games.”

Around 600,000 overseas tickets had been sold to overseas fans for the Olympics, along with 30,000 tickets for the Paralympics. A decision on the number of domestic fans allowed at the Games is set to be made next month and Kyodo has reported that organisers are considering up to 50% venue capacity.