Confirmed: No Foreign Fans At Postponed Tokyo Olympic & Paralympic Games

Just over a week ago we reported how a source close to the Tokyo Olympic Games Organizing  Committee conveyed that the world’s biggest international sporting event would be held without foreign spectators. This option was being considered due to ongoing concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

Reporting today from Tokyo, Kyodo News confirmed that the heads of the organizing bodies of the Olympics and Paralympics decided this morning that the Games will indeed be held sans spectators. Any overseas spectators who purchased tickets to this summer’s postponed Olympic Games will be refunded.

On the historic decision, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach stated, “We have to take decisions which may need sacrifice from everybody and we have to ask for understanding.”

As stated in our previous report, the Japanese government had essentially already concluded that allowing overseas spectators for the Olympics and Paralympics was not feasible, given ‘fears that foreigners could bring more contagious variants detected in many countries.’

Of note, the number of coronavirus cases reported among Japan’s population of over 126 million is 454,000 (.36%), resulting in 8,783 deaths.

Kyodo News is also reporting today that Japanese organizers ‘have determined that people living overseas will not be allowed to volunteer at the Games as part of precautions against the spread of the COVID-19 disease.’

In January of this year were reported how the Japanese government was reportedly considering three options for a springtime decision — not imposing a limit on spectators, placing a ceiling of 50 percent of the venues’ capacity or holding events behind closed doors.

At the time, Katsuhiro Miyamoto, an honorary professor at Kansai University, produced a report estimating the economic loss which would incur if the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics were to be held without spectators.

He estimated that holding the Tokyo Games behind closed doors would cause national economic damage of up to ¥2.4 trillion (nearly $23 billion USD).

In response to this morning’s official announcement, United States Olympics & Paralympics Committee (USOPC) CEO Sarah Hirshland published the following letter:

Dear Team USA Athletes and Community – 
Earlier today we were informed by the Tokyo Organizing Committee, IOC and IPC that foreign spectators will not be allowed into Japan during the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 this summer. 
This is news that was long rumored, but news we hoped would never come. It was also a decision we know the Games organizers in Japan hoped they would never have to make. 
We, like you, are so disappointed, and yet we acknowledge the complex nature of event hosting in the current, COVID-impacted global environment, and the incredible effort being put forth to safely host the Games for all the world’s athletes. Over the past year, we have witnessed event hosts in the U.S. and around the world forced to make similar, and very hard, decisions.  
The grief, frustration and disappointment being felt by all whose plans have been ruined is understandable. It is truly sad that the families, friends and fans from around the world, who help make the Games a global celebration, will not be able to attend. We can only try to imagine the weight of the responsibility felt by the hosts – along with the IOC and IPC – to offer the participants and the host community the safest possible environment, and we acknowledge that safety has to be the priority.  
We recognize you will have questions, and our next step is to engage with the IOC, IPC, TOCOG and ANOC to better understand what this decision means for all of us. As we wait for further clarification and additional information, please know we will continue to advocate for opportunities for American fans to experience the Games in person, and will share additional updates as soon as we have them.  
In lieu of opportunities to attend the Games in person, we hope all who love Team USA will join us in celebrating the amazing dedication and skill of America’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes – and make sure they know that, even from afar, they have the support of a proud nation. We look forward to creating new ways to connect our community and country with Team USA while they are in competing in Japan. 
We share in this difficult news together, but we know that the strength and unity of Team USA will ensure the Tokyo Games are a celebration of the tremendous human spirit that drives you every day. 

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3 years ago

Now we await USA Swimming decision about Olympic trials! How many fans will they allow and what happens to current tickets held if they don’t allow 100%?

A car
Reply to  Pool
3 years ago

I’m waiting for the option for a refund tbh. I don’t have any swimmers to support, just purely spectating, and I’m not sure I’m comfortable attending with anything more than 50% capacity.

Reply to  A car
3 years ago

Fair enough! I hope they make an announcement ASAP so people can make travel arrangements or cancellations

3 years ago

I just don’t understand why there can’t just be a vaccination requirement and anyone can attend

3 years ago

I suppose this is good news because it means the olympics are actually going to happen

3 years ago

Why wouldn’t they allow fully vaccinated people?

Reply to  Swimmer
3 years ago

Vaccinated doesn’t mean virus free. Vaccination is just a long-term prevention against pathogens and is not a cure by any means. So even if you’re vaccinated, you can still carry the virus

3 years ago

Any exceptions for family members of the athletes competing?

Reply to  HoosierDaddy
3 years ago

At this point, no exception has been made for family members of athletes competing.

If we assume a big part of this was the Japanese government not wanting a flood of foreign nationals coming in, I wouldn’t expect that to change. Depending on how far you let family member reach, that could be 30,000+ people that they don’t want to have to deal with.

Reply to  Braden Keith
3 years ago

It might sound a bit discriminatory or anything of the sort, but considering the situation world wide regarding the virus, desperate measures must be made such as what the committee has decided.

The Japanese government has responded and dealing with the virus much better than many Asian countries and in the west, and personally even an extra 30,000 people entering the country solely because they are relatives of the athletes can prove some form of risk of contributing to the spread of the virus in japan.

Just like what was said in the article, sacrifices must be made unfortunately

3 years ago

The upside — as a foreign fan you won’t be subject to disparaging remarks by the few remaining Olympic officials who haven’t resigned yet.

Ken in Tokyo
Reply to  Qqq
3 years ago

Or be attacked by xenophobes. I’ve lived in Tokyo 10 years. I’ve been physically assaulted by strangers (unprovoked, in the day) more times than people have said hello to me. And other racist things said to me.

The true bust is all the wasted English studies. They’ve pushed Tokyo 2020 for 10 years straight as the reason for schools (and companies) to expand English… to help visitors they’d never say hello to. Politeness vs. friendlyness cannot be understood after visiting a place for a week.

Coach John
Reply to  Ken in Tokyo
3 years ago

Lived there and experienced a different world than you I guess.

Reply to  Coach John
3 years ago

Lived there for 8 years and it’s not as bad as people portray it

Ken in Tokyo
Reply to  Coach John
3 years ago

Small price to pay as a gaijin, given the amazing, stupid cheap, single payer healthcare here ($17 a month, no deductible). And thousands upon thousands of 17-20m square apartments for $400-500 a month Tokyo/Kanagawa. Very easy living here. And you won’t get shot, ever! I’ll take the unfriendliness and very seldom racism/attacks any day over stateside .

Breaking Bad News
3 years ago

Oh Sarah

3 years ago

Hopefully all the spectators and officials will be covid tested and innoculated

Reply to  Gheko
3 years ago


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Retta Race

Former Masters swimmer and coach Loretta (Retta) thrives on a non-stop but productive schedule. Nowadays, that includes having just earned her MBA while working full-time in IT while owning French 75 Boutique while also providing swimming insight for BBC.

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