Japan’s government has decided to stage this summer’s delayed Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics without overseas spectators, it was claimed on Tuesday.
Japanese news agency, Kyodo, reported that concerns among the public over the spread of Covid-19 was a key factor behind the decision.
Citing officials with knowledge of the matter, Kyodo said the government had concluded that welcoming fans from abroad would not be possible.
The detection of more contagious variants in many countries was also mentioned as a major reason for shutting the Games off to those outside Japan.
Earlier this month, Sportsmail reported that delayed Olympics, which were originally due to take place last summer, were set to go ahead without overseas fans.
Organisers still hope some domestic supporters will be able to attend events, with talks ongoing about how many may be allowed into venues. A decision on that is due to be made by April.
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach held a meeting with Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto earlier this month, with both hinting at a ban on spectators from abroad.
Hashimoto said the safety of the Japanese public was the ‘priority’ and admitted: ‘We really need to think long and hard about mutant strains of the virus.
‘Anxiety still remains among the voices of the citizens, and as long as there is anxiety we need to work to make sure safety and security are maintained. Overseas fans and domestic fans all want to watch the Games, but safety and security need to be maintained and ensured.’
Bach said: ‘We are doing everything to ensure the safety of the Games for all participants, but also for the Japanese people and the population of Tokyo in particular.
‘We are standing at your side, you have our full commitment. It our interest as much as it is your interest, and it’s our common obligation to secure the safety for everybody.’
Overseas athletes, coaches, officials and media will not have to quarantine on arrival in Japan but will have to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test and their movements will be restricted while in the country.
However, such restrictions would be difficult to implement for foreign fans and the Japanese government wants to focus on border controls to ensure the Games can go ahead.
Tokyo is still in a state of emergency due to the pandemic and, although case numbers are falling, measures were extended for another two weeks on March 4.