Tokyo 2020: No worldwide followers at Olympics and Paralympics


The Olympic Games begin on July 23rd and the Paralympic Games on August 24th

Organizers say that the late 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games will not be admitting international fans this summer amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The Japanese authorities told the Olympic and Paralympic committees that it was “highly unlikely” that entry into the country could be guaranteed.

The organizers said the move would help ensure “safe play for all participants and the Japanese public”.

The games are scheduled to begin on July 23rd.

The Paralympics will follow the Olympic Games a month later on August 24th.

The organizer said it took the step of banning overseas viewers “to provide clarity to ticket holders,” which will be reimbursed.

They added that the “challenging” situation of Covid-19 in Japan and many other countries, global travel restrictions and the appearance of variant strains of the virus had led to the decision.

The organizers postponed the Olympics for a year last March due to the increasing spread of the coronavirus around the world.

“Difficult decisions have to be made”

It is the first time in the history of the event that it has been postponed. More than 11,000 athletes from around 200 countries are expected to take part in 2020.

Andrew Parsons, president of the International Paralympic Committee, said “tough decisions” must certainly be made as a “top priority”.

“It goes without saying that in an ideal world we would rather have international spectators at the Games so that families, friends and fans can cheer on loved ones and all athletes,” he said.

“But for now we have to acknowledge that we are not living in an ideal world because of the global pandemic.”

The exclusion of international fans is another major financial blow to the Tokyo Games.

The cost of the games increased by $ 2.8 billion (£ 2.1 billion). However, due to measures required to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the organizers have consistently ruled out a delay.

Earlier this year, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the Games were “safe” and could serve as a “symbol of global solidarity”.

However, a poll by national broadcaster NHK at the time found that the majority of the Japanese public are against holding the Games in 2021 and are in favor of further delaying or canceling the event outright.

Japan is also having problems with the pandemic, with the head of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee Yoshiro Mori resigns after being criticized for making “inappropriate” comments about women.

The creative director of the Tokyo Games then also resigned after the suggestion that a comedian could appear as “Olympig” at the opening ceremony.

All about the BBC iPlayer bannerAround the footer of the BBC iPlayer