TOKYO, Japan. — The Tokyo Organizing Committee for the upcoming Olympic Summer Games notified the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) of its decision today to ban spectators to its Games who would have arrived from overseas.
The reasoning cited is the health and safety as it relates to COVID of athletes, officials, volunteers, coaches, staff and perhaps especially the population of Japan at-large.
“We share the disappointment of all 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,” said IOC President Thomas Bach in a statement. “For this I am truly sorry. We know that this is a great sacrifice for everybody. We have said from the very beginning of this pandemic that it will require sacrifices.”
Past host cities have welcomed competing athletes relatively early to train while acclimating to respective environments. This summer, due to COVID, athletes are not invited for extensive training and must arrive much closer to their competition schedules.
Those who already purchased tickets will receive refunds. The Games run July 23rd-August 8th, followed by the Paralympic Games two weeks later.
The Olympic Flame Torch Relay has already begun throughout Japan. Local spectators are encouraged to briefly gather to watch and wave as the famous flame passed briefly through their town. No cheering is allowed. The Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee is unofficially using the Torch Relay as a sort of COVID-spread litmus test in the run-up to the Olympic Games as its closely communicates with health care networks in those local communities.
In a break with historic patterns, the IOC awarded the last three Games to countries on the same continent; PyeongChang 2018, Tokyo 2020, and Beijing 2022.