(ATR) The government of Japan is preparing to ban overseas spectators at the postponed Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, says reporting from Kyodo News.
The IOC and Tokyo 2020 leaders have said that a decision would be made by the end of the month on the question of foreign spectators. A meeting of the decision-makers is set for later this month.
Kyodo says government sources indicate the tide is against allowing overseas Olympic fans into Japan, given the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The rate of infection and number of cases in Japan is far smaller than many other nations, a distinction government officials want to maintain. A decline in statistics for the virus has led to a relaxation of a nationwide state of emergency, but it remains in effect for Tokyo and neighboring prefectures Chiba and Saitama, all sites of Olympic and Paralympic events.
Also in effect for nearly all travelers from around the globe are strict measures for arrivals to Japan. Negative pre-flight testing and 14-day quarantines in Japan are among the requirements overseas visitors currently face. With the possibility of hundreds of thousands of foreign residents heading to Tokyo for the Olympics, the potential for complication and chaos runs high, unless the rules are changed.
Ticket buyers around the globe have been waiting for nearly one year on the fate of their planning for the Games. Hospitality programs of the major sponsors and rights holding broadcasters will be a certain casualty of a banon foreign spectators.
Authorized Ticket Resellers which handle sales for the 206 National Olympic Committees will likely have to issue refunds for tickets they have already sold. The bottom line for the ATRs will also be slammed for those firms which have paid large deposit for hotel accommodations and other hospitality services for their ticket-buying clients.
The absence of foreign spectators means another ding in the budget for the Games against the flood of rising costs due to the one year postponement, announced 51 weeks ago. The Tokyo 2020 budget anticipates $800 million in ticket sales revenue, spread among 9 million. Overseas ticket sales could account for about 10 percent of that revenue category.
Even if Japanese ticket-holders are exclusively allowed to attend the Games, their numbers could be limited to account for coronavirus social distancing. That will further erode ticket revenue for the Olympics and Paralympics.
The fear of large Olympic crowds is influencing the operation of the Olympic Torch Relay slated to begin March 25. The opening ceremony of the three and a half months relay will be held behind closed doors, while crowding along the route across Japan is banned. Celebrities who were to participate among the 11,000 runners are said to be dropping plans to run to help avoid generating crowds.
Travel restrictions are being cited for the cancellation of gymnastics test event in Tokyo. The All-Around World Cup was scheduled for May 4 and was to include foreign competitors. The event will be replaced with a gymnastics event with domestic entries.
Reported by Ed Hula.