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Covid effect: No overseas spectators at Tokyo Olympics (Lead)

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Lausanne, March 20 (IANS) The International Olympic Committee (IOC), in a meeting with four other bodies on Saturday, decided to not allow overseas spectators for the July-August Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in Tokyo due to the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic globally.

“Today, the five parties [the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG), the Organising Committee Tokyo 2020 and the government of Japan] met virtually. During the meeting, the IOC and IPC were informed, as outlined below, about the conclusion of the Japanese parties not to allow entry into Japan for overseas spectators for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 due to the prevailing worldwide COVID-19 pandemic,” said a statement posted on the official website of the Tokyo Games.

The quadrennial Games were supposed to be staged in 2020 but were delayed by a year due to the pandemic and will now organised from July 23-August 8.

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“Olympic and Paralympic tickets purchased by overseas residents from the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee will be refunded,” said the statement.

The statement outlined the “very challenging” Covid situation prevailing around the globe.

“Currently, the COVID-19 situation in Japan and many other countries around the world is still very challenging and a number of variant strains have emerged, whilst international travel remains severely restricted globally. 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,” it said.

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“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. This conclusion will further contribute to ensure safe and secure Games for all participants and the Japanese public.”

In line with their principle of safety first for all participants and out of respect for all the parties on the Japanese side, the IOC and IPC announced in Saturday’s five-party meeting that they fully respect and accept this conclusion.

“Under these circumstances, ticketholders from overseas will soon be informed of the refund mechanism,” the statement read.

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“Accredited Games participants coming to Japan this summer will continue to be required to follow the Tokyo 2020 Playbooks for their stakeholder group. A second version will be released by the end of April,” it said. “We will continue to do our utmost to deliver a safe and secure Games in the hopes that the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be a light of hope for people all over the world.”

Tokyo 2020 president Hashimoto Seiko said plans were afoot to connect fans to the Olympics remotely.

“In many ways the Tokyo 2020 Games will be completely different to any previous Games. However, the essential of the Games will remain unchanged, as athletes give their utmost and inspire the world with transcendent performances,” he said.

“We are currently working on specific plans to share support remotely from around the world and help bring people together in ways suited to our current times. Even if you are no longer able to come to Japan this summer, we hope very much that you will continue to support the Tokyo 2020 Games.”

Ever since the election of Tokyo as the host of the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2013, all five parties have been preparing for the 2020 Games with the goal of welcoming domestic and overseas spectators, celebrating the athletes, and embodying the values of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“However, following the postponement of the Games due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Japanese Coordination Meeting for COVID-19 Countermeasures at the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 issued an interim summary in December 2020 that included the following statement on overseas spectators: ‘The decision whether to accept overseas spectators will be made by the spring of 2021 taking into consideration the COVID-19 situation in Japan and overseas, immigration regulations in force at the time, and any prevailing restrictions on the attendance of sporting events’,” it read.

The five parties agreed on March 3, 2021, that a final decision would be announced by the end of March.

–IANS

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