Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics expected to go ahead without international spectators

The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are set to go ahead this year without overseas spectators, according to a local news agency.

The 2020 games, which will take place this year from 23 July to August 8 and 24 August to 5 September after being postponed, will go ahead in front of a national audience, Kyodo News reported, citing officials “with knowledge of the matter”.

The Japanese organising committee of the summer games and the government are expected to make a decision on whether international visitors will be allowed to travel to Japan to watch the games in person by the end of this month.

The opening ceremony and lighting of the Olympic torch will also be held without spectators as well to prevent the congregating of large crowds.

“The organising committee has decided it is essential to hold the ceremony in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima behind closed doors, only permitting participants and invitees to take part in the event, to avoid large crowds forming amid the pandemic,” the official told Kyodo News.

The official also said the government has “concluded that welcoming fans from abroad is not possible given concerns among the Japanese public over the coronavirus and the fact that more contagious variants have been detected in many countries”.

Foreign nationals are not currently permitted to enter Japan, as the country struggles to contain the number of COVID-19 infections, with Tokyo recording more than 2,500 cases per day in January.

According to Kyodo, one million spectators were expected to visit Japan to watch the games and around 4.45 million tickets have already been sold within Japan.

ABC News reported that a Japanese newspaper poll showed that 77 per cent of respondents were against allowing foreign fans to attend and 18 per cent said they were in favour.

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