The organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games announced this Saturday that the event will take place without the presence of spectators from outside Japan as a measure to contain the spread of the covid-19 pandemic. The decision was confirmed by Tamayo Marukawa, the Japanese minister in charge of the Games, after a meeting she held with the presidents of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (ICC) and the Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike. “This measure will help ensure safe Games for all participants and the Japanese public,” explained the Organizing Committee chaired by Seiko Hashimoto.
The 2020 Games, which were postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic, will begin in the Japanese capital on July 23 and end on August 8. “Our priority is the safety of all participants and of course, the Japanese people. Setting those priorities means that you have to respect them and that we will have to make difficult decisions that involve sacrifices for everyone, ”said Thomas Bach, IOC President, at the beginning of the meeting. It was agreed that foreign visitors who are not residents of Japan will not be allowed to enter the country to attend the Games. Japan has, in fact, banned the entry of all foreigners who are not residents since last December. It considers that the entry of visitors would increase the risk of introducing other more contagious variants of the covid. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Japan has registered 453,616 cases (116,149 in Tokyo) and 8,783 deaths.
This decision would also affect foreign volunteers who were expected to travel to the country to collaborate in the sporting event. Around 10% of the approximately 80,000 volunteers for the Games were foreigners, according to figures from the organization prior to the postponement of the event until 2021. According to the Kyodo news agency, the Government is considering making exceptions with volunteers from abroad whose functions are difficult to replace by someone who resides in the country, such as speaking a certain language.
Organizers said the final decision on domestic viewers will be made in April. Japan currently restricts the number of spectators to 5,000 in mass events which means, for example, less than 10% of the capacity of the Tokyo Olympic Stadium.
The organizing committee sold more than 4 million tickets for the Games in Japan alone, but received 810,000 return requests last year after the postponement. Hashimoto confirmed this Saturday that those who bought their tickets will receive the corresponding refund. So far, according to figures detailed by Hashimoto herself, some 600,000 tickets for the Games had been sold outside of Japan.
The Japanese Government, for its part, has invested some 12,000 million dollars (9,900 million euros) including the extra thousands of penalties for the delay and cannot stop celebrating them, even without a foreign public, although the income it receives is minimal . And even if it loses up to the 3,300 million dollars (2,720 million euros) that it expects to receive from local sponsors and 800 million (660 million euros) from the sale of tickets.
Not counting the loss of income feared by bars, restaurants, museums, entertainment venues and tourist attractions, forbidden destinations for accredited foreign journalists, who will be forced to make their living exclusively in the Olympic facilities and their restaurants: stadiums, centers training, media centers