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It’s official: no overseas fans at Tokyo 2020

Overseas spectators will not be permitted to attend the rearranged Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo this summer.

An announcement was made after a meeting of the International Olympic Committee, International Paralympic Committee, Tokyo metropolitan government, the Tokyo 2020 organising committee and the government of Japan on Saturday.

The decision, which was not unexpected, is owing to continuing uncertainty amid the Covid-19 pandemic, with international travel restricted and variant coronavirus strains emerging. Japan is unlikely to be open to any foreign tourists by the summer.

“Tthe Covid-19 situation in Japan and many other countries around the world is still very challenging and a number of variant strains have emerged, while international travel remains severely restricted globally,” a joint statement from the five parties involved in the meeting read.

“Based on the present situation of the pandemic, it is highly unlikely that entry into Japan will be guaranteed this summer for people from overseas.

“In order to give clarity to ticket-holders living overseas and to enable them to adjust their travel plans at this stage, the parties on the Japanese side have come to the conclusion that they will not be able to enter into Japan at the time of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“This conclusion will further contribute to ensure safe and secure Games for all participants and the Japanese public.”

The Olympic Games, which were originally scheduled to take place last year, are due to begin on July 23 and end on August 8. The Paralympics are scheduled to take place from August 24 to September 5. Tickets purchased overseas through official channels will be refunded.

“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. For this I am truly sorry,” Thomas Bach, the IOC president, said.

“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 organise 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.”

Meanwhile, preparations for the Olympics have been thrown into further turmoil after the creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies said he would resign over a sexist comment about a female entertainer, whom he likened to a pig.

Hiroshi Sasaki said he would step down after a weekly magazine revealed he had proposed to his creative team that Naomi Watanabe, a popular celebrity, should be lowered into the Olympic Stadium dressed as a pig in an opening ceremony segment he called “Olympig”.

Seiko Hashimoto, the head of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, said she was “shocked” when she read about Sasaki’s comments in the magazine, adding that he had apologised and communicated his intention to resign in a phone call with her last week.

“It should have never happened,” Hashimoto said at a news conference on Thursday, adding that she had accepted his resignation.

Sasaki’s remarks were “inappropriate and very regrettable”, she said. “When I became president of the organising committee, I made gender equality a key initiative so that we could regain the public’s trust.”

The latest display of sexism among a senior member of the Tokyo 2020 team comes just weeks after Hashimoto’s predecessor, Yoshiro Mori, caused an international outcry after complaining that “talkative” women” made meetings drag on. Mori later resigned.

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Published March 22, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated March 21, 2021 at 9:29 pm)

It’s official: no overseas fans at Tokyo 2020

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