After months of speculation, Japan has decided to block foreign spectators from attending the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics to prevent the spread of COVID-19, per Kyodo News.
The Summer Games are scheduled to run from July 23 to Sept. 5 and were expected to host around one million foreign spectators.
“We would really like people from around the world to come to a full stadium, but unless we are prepared to accept them and the medical situation in Japan is perfect, it will cause a great deal of trouble also to visitors from overseas,” Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo Olympic committee, told reporters last week.
The decision was difficult for the Japanese government, as the games were set to stimulate the country’s economy.
- The one-year delay from the originally scheduled 2020 games caused costs to surge to at least $15 billion.
- The financial hit will be compounded with no foreign spectators. Japan projected ticket revenue to reach almost $830 million.
Governing bodies anticipate a decision on domestic attendance in April. Around 4.45 million tickets were sold in Japan, but roughly 810,000 refund requests have already been made.
The 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea saw 80% of its ticket sales come from local spectators.