Foreign spectators will not be allowed into Japan to attend the 2021 Olympic and Paralympic Games because of concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Japanese government and Tokyo 2020 officials announced Saturday.
International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee officials were informed of the decision in a virtual meeting with Tokyo 2020, Japanese government and Tokyo Metropolitan Government officials.
“In many ways the Tokyo 2020 Games will be completely different to any previous Games,” Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto said in a statement. “However, the essence of the Games will remain unchanged, as athletes give their utmost and inspire the world with transcendent performances. 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. 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.”
The IOC said it respected the decision.
“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 said 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.
“But we have also said that the first principle is safety. Every decision has to respect the principle of safety first. I know that our Japanese partners and friends did not reach this conclusion lightly. Together with them, the IOC’s top priority was, is and remains to organize safe Olympic and Paralympic Games for everyone: all the participants and, of course, our gracious hosts, the Japanese people. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder at the side of our Japanese partners and friends, without any kind of reservation, to make the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 a great success.”
CoSport, the world’s largest Olympic ticket and hospitality package provider, said it will begin refunding customers as soon as it receives funds from Tokyo 2020.
“CoSport is disappointed to learn the Japanese Government has decided to prohibit the attendance of international spectators,” the New Jersey-based company said it a statement. “We were hoping Tokyo 2020 would mark a global turning point as the world gathered to celebrate the Games. Unfortunately, the Japanese Government’s decision is yet another let down, but we all have to understand their concerns about everyone’s health and safety.
“As soon as Tokyo 2020 provides us with the official refund policies and procedures, which the International Olympic Committee will have to approve, CoSport and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee will work with Tokyo 2020 to secure our customers’ refund based on those policies and the terms and conditions of their purchases.
“The refund process likely will be similar to the way refunds were provided last year for those who chose the option not to attend due to the postponement. The Tokyo 2020 organizers first will have to return the necessary funds to CoSport because CoSport, as an intermediary, long ago forwarded our customers’ payments to Tokyo 2020. We have learned from that unprecedented situation – the first mass refund in Olympic history – and are endeavoring to make the process better for everyone.”
Source: Orange County Register