Fans from other countries will not be able to attend the Tokyo Olympic Games, which are held this year between July 23 and August 8, due to the health risks linked to the covid-19 pandemic, as announced this Saturday the organizers of the Olympic event in the Japanese capital.
“In order to provide clarity to ticket holders living abroad and allow them to adjust their travel plans at this time, the parties from the Japanese side have concluded that such persons will not be able to enter Japan in that time of the Olympic and Paralympic Games ”, announced the organizers in a statement.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (ICC) “fully respect and accept this conclusion,” said the text, adding that the details of the money back will be released soon.
The statement was published at the end of a telematic meeting, marked at the beginning by an earthquake in Tokyo, between five parties related to the Games: the organizing committee, the city of Tokyo, the Japanese government, the IOC and the CPI. .
The president of the IOC, the German Thomas Bach, hinted at the decision at the beginning of the meeting, warning that “difficult decisions” would be necessary to strengthen security. Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto spoke of a “very disappointing” but “inevitable” decision. “It is news that we hoped would never come,” the US Olympic delegation reacted.
The decision had been anticipated in recent weeks, with leaks suggesting that organizers believed that an entry ban on foreign visitors is the only option, when working to make a safe Olympics despite the pandemic.
The IOC had raised exceptions for certain foreign guests, but the rules will likely be strict. Seiko Hashimoto admitted that it will even be “difficult” for the relatives of the athletes who participate.
This prohibition is a historical fact. “It had never happened that foreign spectators were prohibited from entering the host country of the Games, not even during the Spanish flu in Antwerp in 1920,” recalled Jean-Loup Chappelet, professor emeritus at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland) and specialist of the Olympic Games.
A puzzle now appears to return the money for the hundreds of thousands of tickets sold outside of Japan and face this loss of income, when the budget for Tokyo 2020 already exceeds 15,000 million dollars, a record for the event.
Some 630,000 tickets were to be sold abroad, organizers announced this Saturday, but this figure seemed increasingly far from reality in recent weeks. Now, the organizers will have to decide how many local spectators will be able to attend the tests.
Other tough measures against covid-19 are planned to ensure a “safe environment” at the Tokyo Games, which were postponed last year due to the pandemic. Vaccination of participants will not be mandatory, but the IOC encourages doing so. The “Pandemic Games” will favor television networks, whose broadcasting rights are crucial to the finances of the IOC.
Last year, the organizers wanted to make these Games a celebration of “the victory of humanity over the virus”, but their speech has changed radically in recent weeks, insisting now on “the anxiety” of the Japanese and “the priority” of your safety.
Japan, so far, has controlled the health crisis better than other countries, but has had a resurgence of infections between November and the end of January, forcing the government to temporarily reimpose the state of emergency in a large part of the country, including Tokyo.
The Japanese government launched a vaccination program in February but for now it only concerns health personnel. Most of the country’s population will not be vaccinated before the Games.
For several months, Japanese public opinion has been largely hostile to the dispute of the Games this year, preferring a new postponement or cancellation, and a poll published on March 8 by the Yomiuri newspaper revealed that only 18% of Japanese it was favorable to the presence of foreign spectators at the Games.
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