Tokyo Summer Olympics bars overseas spectators

Originally set for 2020, the games have been delayed by the pandemic.

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The Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo won’t be open to spectators traveling from outside Japan, the organizers said Saturday, citing concern over the coronavirus pandemic. Overseas residents who bought tickets from the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee will get their money back, the group said.

“We are currently working on specific plans to share support remotely from around the world and help bring people together in ways suited to our current times,” Tokyo 2020 President Hashimoto Seiko said in a statement. “Even if you are no longer able to come to Japan this summer, we hope very much that you will continue to support the Tokyo 2020 Games.”

Originally set to take place from July 24 till Aug. 9, 2020, the Olympics were pushed back a year and rescheduled for July 23 till Aug. 8, 2021. The Paralympics were also delayed and are now set to run from Aug. 24 till Sept. 5, 2021.

The organizers noted Saturday that emerging coronavirus variants continue to raise concern and that the situation with COVID-19 in Japan and elsewhere remains challenging. They also pointed to severe international travel restrictions put in place by countries around the world and said overseas travelers may well be prohibited from entering Japan this summer. 

They said they made the decision about international spectators “to give clarity to ticket holders living overseas and to enable them to adjust their travel plans.” Information on how to get a refund will be made available soon, the organizers added.

“We will continue to do our utmost to deliver a safe and secure Games,” they said, “in the hopes that the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be a light of hope for people all over the world.”

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