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, athlete and former Olympian.
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The 2020 Games, which were postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic, they will begin in the capital of Japan on July 23 and will end on August 8. “Our priority is the safety of all the 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 . The country 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 start of the pandemic , Japan has registered 454,000 cases (116,149 in Tokyo) and 8,783 deaths.
"International travel is still restricted and currently the situation of covid-19 in Japan and other countries remains challenging and it is not clear if the Japanese authorities will allow the entry of tourists for the summer," explained Hashimoto while acknowledging that this summer's Games will be "completely different" from those of the past. “For those who cannot join the Games, we will look for ways to connect them with the athletes, even if they cannot be in person,” he added.
Although the organizers have decided to completely rule out the attendance of spectators from abroad, there is a possibility that certain people involved in the organization may enter the country, Hashimoto added without offering further details. Around 10% of the nearly 80,000 volunteers for the Games were foreigners, according to figures from the organization prior to the postponement of the event until 2021.
The final decision on national spectators, on the other hand, 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 it received 810,000 refund 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 the figures detailed by Hashimoto herself, some 600,000 tickets for the Games had been sold outside of Japan. When asked if it is contemplated to compensate for other travel expenses to those who had already planned their visit to Japan for the event, the president of Tokyo 2020 said that this is outside their competence.
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, press centers
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