Japan to stage Olympic and Paralympic games 'without overseas spectators'

Japan to stage Olympic and Paralympic games 'without overseas spectators'
By: World News Posted On: March 09, 2021 View: 27

Japan to stage Olympic and Paralympic games 'without overseas spectators'

Overseas spectators will not be allowed at this summer's Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic games, it has been reported.

The games have already been postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and organisers were hopeful international visitors would be able to attend.

However the Japanese government has said welcoming fans from abroad would not be possible given public concern about the coronavirus and the spread of variants from other countries, the Kyodo news agency said.

Passersby walk past a countdown clock to the Games
Image: Passersby walk past a countdown clock to the Games

The opening ceremony of the torch relay will also be held without spectators, the agency added.

"The organising committee has decided it is essential to hold the ceremony in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima behind closed doors, only permitting participants and invitees to take part in the event, to avoid large crowds forming amid the pandemic," Kyodo said, quoting the officials.

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto had said she wanted a decision on whether to let in overseas spectators before the start of the torch relay on 25 March.

"We would really like people from around the world to come to a full stadium, but unless we are prepared to accept them and the medical situation in Japan is perfect, it will cause a great deal of trouble also to visitors from overseas," Ms Hashimoto told reporters last week.

More from Tokyo 2020 - Paralympics

The Olympics are being held from 23 July to 8 August and the Paralympics from 25 August to 5 September.

At the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, local fans accounted for 80% of all ticket sales, with international visitors buying 20%

While coronavirus infection numbers have been relatively low in Japan compared with the United States and many European countries, the country has been hit hard by the third wave of the pandemic and Tokyo remains under a state of emergency.

Japan has recorded more than 441,200 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with the death toll at more than 8,300.

Most Japanese people do not want international visitors to attend the games amid fears a large influx could spark a resurgence of infections, a Yomiuri newspaper poll showed.

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