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Tokyo Bans International Spectators from Olympics

Andy Berg

The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic games will still take place in July but international spectators will be banned from attending events due to concerns over COVID-19.

The decision was made during a call with a variety of stakeholders.

"Based on the present situation of the pandemic, it is highly unlikely that entry into Japan will be guaranteed this summer for people from overseas," the Olympic organizing committee said in a statement. "In order to give clarity to ticket holders living overseas and to enable them to adjust their travel plans at this stage, the parties on the Japanese side have come to the conclusion that they will not be able to enter into Japan at the time of the Olympic and Paralympic Games."

The International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee said they respect the decision.

"We have to take decisions that may need sacrifice from everybody," IOC President Thomas Bach said.

Spectators not living in Japan who purchased tickets will receive a refund. Before last year's postponement, Tokyo organizers said they had sold roughly 4.5 million Olympic tickets to residents of Japan, with 970,000 for the Paralympics. 

Japanese sentiment about holding the games is flagging. NPR reports that a recent poll by national broadcaster NHK found that roughly 80 percent of Japanese citizen think the games should be cancelled or postponed.

The Olympic Opening Ceremony is scheduled for July 23.

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