Fans from abroad barred from Tokyo Olympics

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, on a screen, delivers an opening speech while Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee President Seiko Hashimoto listens at a five-party meeting of Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games with International Paralympic Committee (IPC) President Andrew Parsons, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and Japanese Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa in Tokyo Saturday, March 20, 2021. (Yoshikazu Tsuno/Pool Photo via AP) (YOSHIKAZU TSUNO, AP)

TOKYO – Spectators from abroad will be barred from the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

The decision was announced after a meeting of the International Olympic Committee, the Japanese government, the Tokyo government, the International Paralympic Committee and local organizers.

Officials say the risk was too great to admit fans from overseas during the coronavirus pandemic. About 1 million tickets are reported to have been sold to fans from outside Japan.

The ban on fans from abroad comes just days before the Olympic torch relay starts Thursday from Fukushima prefecture in northeastern Japan. It will last for 121 days, crisscross Japan with 10,000 runners, and end on July 23 at the opening ceremony at the National Stadium in Tokyo.

The relay will be a test for the Olympics and Paralympics, which will involve 15,400 athletes entering Japan. They will be tested before leaving home, tested upon arrival in Japan, and tested frequently while they reside in a secure “bubble” in the Athletes Village alongside Tokyo Bay.

Japan has attributed about 8,800 deaths to COVID-19 and has controlled the virus better than most countries.

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