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International Spectators Banned From Tokyo Olympics

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Whilst it may be considered trivial in the grand scheme of things, sports are a large part of people’s lives, and they have been hit hard by the pandemic. From piped-in crowd sounds to players playing in front of empty stadiums, following sports from a distance has proved hard to stomach for many once die-hard followers.

This took a turn for the worse recent when it was announced that the Olympics – arguably the world’s greatest sporting event – would not be allowing international spectators to travel to the Tokyo Olympics. Here’s why that announcement was made, plus a reminder of Japan’s entry requirements.

International Spectators Banned From Tokyo Olympics

Visiting Tokyo Olympics – Always In Doubt

Whilst this news may be sad for many to hear, it can’t be said that it was unexpected. Since the start of the pandemic around a year ago, Japan has been fire-fighting against skeptics claiming that foreign visitors would not – or should not – be able to visit the country to watch the games.

tokyo lockdown empty

The Tokyo Olympics were postponed last year, marking only the fourth time the games have failed to go ahead in their scheduled year, with the first three occasions coming during wartime. Since then, the powers that be have bent over backwards trying to find ways to potentially accommodate travelers.

tokyo sunset

Originally, Japan had planned for select groups of foreign travelers to be allowed in to the country by spring in order to test the country’s anti-Covid-19 measure before a larger influx of foreign travelers arrived in time for the games themselves. The groups were earmarked to arrive from neighbouring countries that had a handle on the spread of the virus, such as Taiwan and China, and they were not to be allowed to travel freely. However, the Covid-19 situation in Japan has not improved to the level where such a scheme was able to take place.

akihabara tokyo

Foreign Spectators Banned – The Reasons Given

Organizers made the announcement that international spectators would not be allowed to enter the country for the games on Saturday, citing public concerns about coronavirus. A survey a few months ago revealed that a large proportion of the country wanted the games to be postponed once more or cancelled entirely.

Five-way talks, which included the head of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach and the governor of Tokyo, were held in order to discuss the situation, with organizers announcing that the decision not to allow international spectators would “ensure safe and secure Games for all participants and the Japanese public”.

It was also revealed that more than 600,000 tickets for the Olympics were to be refunded, as well as a further 30,000 for the Paralympic games. However, the cost of hotel booking cancellations would not be covered. The games are expected to be more scaled-back than usual, with a reduction in the number of staff and helpers, meaning that country will not be receiving anyway near the level of tourism expenditure that it would have been expecting.

olympics should be postponed

Who Can Visit Japan? Information For Travelers

Japan’s border restrictions are amongst the most severe in the world, with 152 countries on its prohibited list. At present, all foreign nationals are prohibited from visiting as tourists; the country had lowered travel restrictions from those from Australia, Brunei, China (including Hong Kong and Macau), New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam, but the presence of virus variant meant this program was temporarily suspended.  

Maiko geisha walking on a street of Gion in Kyoto Japan

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Tuesday 23rd of March 2021

I don’t think international travel or the world in general will ever go back to normal. They refuse to let us live anymore.

Vinny the Adventurer

Monday 22nd of March 2021

Gee, the idea of traveling to Japan, be in quarantine and the only thing I’m allowed to do is spectate Olympic sports. What a blast.