TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan has decided to stage this summer’s Tokoyo Olympics and Paralympics without overseas spectators due to public concern about the COVID-19, Kyodo news agency said on Tuesday, citing officials with knowledge of the mater.
The Tokyo 2020 games organising committee said in response that a decision would be made by the end of March.
The Olympics, postponed by a year because of the pandemic, are scheduled for July 23 to Aug. 8 and the Paralympics from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.
Kyodo said the government had concluded that welcoming fans from abroad would not be possible given public concern about the coronavirus and the detection of more contagious variants in many countries, Kyodo cited the officials as saying.
The opening ceremony of the torch relay would also be held without any spectators, Kyodo said.
Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto has said she wants a decision on whether to let in overseas spectators before the start of the torch relay on March 25.
In the last Olympic Games, the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, local fans accounted for 80 percent of all ticket sales, with international fans buying 20 percent.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 that a large influx could spark a resurgence of infections, a Yomiuri newspaper poll showed.
The survey showed 77% of respondents were against allowing foreign fans to attend, versus 18% in favour.