2020 Tokyo Olympic Games Won’t Allow International Spectators

COVID-19 hits the 2020 Games with yet another haymaker.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games — which take place in summer 2021 — will look different from previous iterations. On Saturday, March 20, 2021, according to ESPN, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) met virtually with the government of Japan, the government of Tokyo, and local organizers. They determined that the risk associated with COVID-19 is still threatening enough that they will disallow spectators from outside of Japan to enter the country for the Games.

Additionally, international spectators will be barred from the opening ceremony set to take place on July 23, 2021, at the National Stadium in Tokyo and the Olympic torch’s ceremonial relay beginning on March 25, 2021. The torch’s relay spans 121 days and involves approximately 10,000 runners carrying the Olympic flame across all 47 of Japan’s prefectures, starting in Fukushima in northeastern Japan. As additional measures to protect against COVID-19, any domestic spectators of the relay are being asked not to leave the prefecture they are in (ergo, not follow the relay), continue to wear masks, and maintain social distancing.

Compared to much of the rest of the world, Japan has a better-than-many handle containing the outbreak of COVID-19. According to Worldometer, Japan has suffered 8,812 Coronavirus-related deaths at the time of this article’s publication, the 39th most of any country. For context, there have been 2,729,277 Coronavirus-related deaths worldwide — the USA has the most COVID-19 deaths (555,324), followed by Brazil (294,115), then India (160,003).


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Cost of the Olympic Games

According to the University of Oxford, the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games will be the most expensive Games of all time. The year-long postponement ballooned the overall cost to approximately USD 15.4 billion. The loss of expected revenue from ticket sales is substantial — approximately $800 million. Each venue’s capacities are expected to be announced in April, and 4.45 million tickets have already been sold to Japanese residents.

Approximately 600,000 tickets were sold to people outside of Japan. Organizers of the Games have confirmed that those people will be able to get refunds. However, they could not guarantee that fees paid to ticket resellers could be refunded as well. The CEO of the organizing committee, Toshiro Muto, said that due to not having any “contract arrangement with Tokyo,” any financial loss incurred by canceled flights or hotel reservations was not the Games organizers’ responsibility.

Organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said the decision to bar international spectators “was an unavoidable decision.”

Featured image from Tokyo 2020 Olympics Instagram page: @olympicsgram