Tokyo Olympic Stadium
Photo: F11photo/DreamstimeTop view of the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo

Japan likely to hold Tokyo Olympics without overseas spectators

A definitive decision is expected to be announced by March 25, the first day of the Olympic torch relay

Emma Steen
Written by
Emma Steen

[Update, March 10] According to Kyodo News, the government has abandoned the prospect of allowing overseas spectators at the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer. The report came from unnamed government officials and has yet to be publicly confirmed. The Japanese organising committee and the International Olympic Committee are expected to hold a meeting soon to make a formal decision on the issue. Note that this development is still a matter of speculation and has yet to be confirmed. 

Additionally, Nikkei reports that an official decision will be made and announced by March 25, the day the Olympic torch relay begins. It has already been decided that there will be no spectators at the torch relay. The government is still considering whether it would be possible for a small number of local spectators to attend the Games, or if the events will be held behind closed doors. According to the Kyodo News report, 4.45 million tickets have already been sold in the country, while there have been 810,000 refund requests so far.


[March 3] The long road to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has been full of heartbreak and cautious optimism as the city carries on with preparations in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Though Japan has just begun rolling out Covid-19 vaccines, the government remains cautious about the process of reopening borders to overseas visitors. This means the question of allowing overseas spectators at the upcoming Olympic Games still remains up in the air.

Though there were earlier rumours that the Olympic Games could go ahead without any spectators at all, officials have now confirmed that a decision will be made this month on whether to allow international spectators into the country on tourist visas. If the government does decide to allow spectators to come in from overseas, the next step would be determining the maximum number of visitors to allow in. 

Meanwhile, Nikkei reports that competing athletes will be allowed to enter the country as early as March for trial matches. Athletes will not be required to get vaccinated in order to enter Japan. 

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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