While an official announcement has not been made yet, it’s seems very likely that the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, which were postponed from last summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will not have international fans in attendance.
According to The Associated Press, the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, Seiko Hashimoto, said during online talks with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), “If the situation is tough and it would make the (Japanese) consumers concerned, that is a situation we need to avoid from happening.”
She added that a “zero-fans option” was not discussed, meaning it’s possible only Japanese fans would be in attendance.
The AP report also noted that Japanese newspaper Mainichi has already reported that the decision to exclude foreign fans has been made, citing an unnamed government official. This newspaper report came out just prior to Hashimoto’s meeting with the IOC. During that meeting, however, she said that an official decision would be made by March 25, when the torch relay begins. The Olympics themselves begin on July 23.
Currently, Japan is closed to at least 152 countries, including the United States and Canada. The country announced last summer “Phased Measures for Resuming Cross-Border Travel” to reintroduce a select number of business travelers to the country; Japan has, as of January 14, suspended this. Countries approved under the Framework had included Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Cambodia, Singapore, Republic of Korea, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Brunei, Malaysia, Myanmar, Mongolia, Laos and Taiwan.
According to The New York Times, Japan is listed among the countries “where new cases are lower and staying low.” The country has had nearly 434,000 total cases (that’s 343 per 100,000 people) with about 1,400 new cases daily on average over the last week.
That said, The AP reports that 80 percent of Japanese locals want the Olympics postponed again or outright canceled. Potential fans aside, the Olympics and Paralympics are expected to involve nearly 15,000 athletes, along with “tens of thousands of coaches, judges, sponsors, media and VIPs,” according to The AP. Vaccinations for participants will be encouraged but not required.