No international fans will be allowed to attend the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and late Paralympics this summer due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
Japanese authorities have informed the Olympic and Paralympic Committees that it is “extremely unlikely” to guarantee entry to the country.
Organizers said the move now gives “clarity” to ticket holders and helps ensure “safe games for all participants and the Japanese public.”
The games are scheduled to begin on July 23.
The Paralympics follow the Olympics a month later, from August 24th.
Organizers said that the “difficult” situation of Covid-19 in Japan and many other countries, global travel restrictions and the emergence of various strains of the virus, led to the decision, and ticket holders’ money will be refunded.
The Olympics were postponed for a year in March last year due to the increasing spread of the Coronavirus around the world.
Difficult decisions have to be made
This is the first time in the event’s history that it has been postponed, with more than 11,000 athletes from nearly 200 countries scheduled to participate in 2020.
Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, said the move was “a big sacrifice for everyone.”
“We share the disappointment of all the 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,” he said. “That’s why I’m really sorry.
“Every decision must respect the principle of safety first. I know that our Japanese partners and friends did not come to this conclusion easily.”
“We stand side by side with our Japanese partners and friends, without any kind of reservation, to make the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 a huge success.”
International Paralympic Committee Chairman Andrew Parsons said that “tough decisions” must be taken with safety as a “top priority”.
“It goes without saying that in an ideal world we would rather have international spectators at the Games,” he said.
“But at the moment we must admit that due to the global pandemic, we do not live in an ideal world.”
“Very sad news” – reaction
The British Olympic Association said that while it was “a very disappointing situation”, it did highlight the “determination to stage” a safe event during the pandemic.
“This is very sad news, not only for British fans, but especially for the family and friends of the athletes,” the Federation Council statement continued.
The exclusion of international fans comes as another big financial blow to the Tokyo Olympics.
Games costs increased by $ 2.8 billion (£ 2.1 billion) Due to the measures needed to prevent the spread of Covid-19, but regulators have consistently ruled out any delay.
Earlier this year, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the games would be “safe and secure” and could serve as “a symbol of global solidarity.”
However, a then-opinion poll by the National Broadcasting Corporation NHK showed that a majority of Japanese fans are against holding the Games in 2021, preferring further delay or complete cancellation of the event.
Japan has also faced problems unrelated to the epidemic, with the chairman of the Tokyo Olympics Organizing Committee Yoshiro Mori resigns After he was criticized for making “inappropriate” remarks about women.
Creative Director of the Tokyo Games Then he also resigned After suggesting that a comedian appear as “Olympique” at the opening ceremony.
“A dream for nearly 40 years” – fans with tickets speak to BBC Sport
Alex Blaney He said it was a “sad day” and that he was “frustrated” at not being able to help his 74-year-old father achieve a long-term ambition.
“When I was seven years old in 1984, we were watching Dali Thompson high jump, and my dad turned to me and said he’d love to go to the Olympics outside,” said Blane.
“I remembered this dream of him nearly 40 years ago. We all have 30 tickets for us to make the dream come true. Maybe this was the last chance we had, because he now suffers from dementia. Maybe we can make it happen. Paris.” [2024 Olympics]But it will not be the same. “
Jill Ludlow She said that her husband and son – who received tickets as a birthday present – were about to go on a “journey of a lifetime,” but “completely understood” the decision.
Philip Davis He organized his tickets in 2019, “before even the word Covid appeared,” and said the announcement was “not a surprise”, although he “tried to remain positive” and optimistic.
“Personally, I was a little conservative about it, but I would have been happy to go nonetheless,” he said. “I’ll definitely still watch from home though.”
Hannah Chambers“It’s disappointing but understandable given the world is in turmoil,” said, who was ready to attend with her boyfriend and hoped to see a friend compete in Tokyo.
John Riggs “Planning begins for Paris” after the announcement, he said, adding: “We appreciate that there are more important things happening in the world at the moment, as always, but she is still disappointed.”
about Dig Mahoney This will be the first session he missed since 1992.
After watching Jamaican runner Usain Bolt win eight golds over the years, he said he “will enjoy those memories and not feel too hard.”