International spectators will not be allowed to enter Japan during this summer’s delayed Olympic Games amid public concerns over the coronavirus, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Organising Committee said on Saturday.

Olympic and Paralympic tickets purchased by overseas residents will be refunded, according to a statement released following a five-party meeting including the head of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.
“It’s very unfortunate,” Koike said of the decision to reporters after the meeting, but added that the conclusion was “unavoidable” given that the main priority for holding a successful Games would be the health of the athletes and the Japanese public.

The Olympic Games, postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are now scheduled for July 23 to Aug. 8, and the Paralympics from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.
Earlier on Saturday, Kyodo news service also reported that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Organising Committee is leaning towards barring foreign volunteers from helping at the Games.

Media polls show that a majority of the Japanese public are wary about letting in international spectators to watch the Games as the country grapples with the tail-end of a third wave of the pandemic.

Sources told Reuters earlier this month that the Japanese government has concluded it will not be able to allow spectators from abroad.

(Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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Photo Credit: A man wearing a protective face mask following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) walks past a banner for the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The committee announced on March 20, 2021 that international visitors could not attend. Issei Kato / Reuters