If foreigners were hoping to travel to Tokyo for this year’s Olympics, then their dreams have officially been shattered.
The Associated Press reported on Saturday that International Olympic Committee, the Japanese government, the Tokyo government, the International Paralympic Committee and local organizers decided in an online meeting that spectators from abroad will be barred from the games.
“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 Tokyo organizing committee said in a statement.
Officials made this decision after listening to their citizens. Nearly 80% of the Japanese public opposed allowing fans from overseas to attend the events. However, this move only gave the Japanese public half of what they wanted since a similar percentage of people opposed holding the games in general.
600,000 tickets were sold to fans outside of Japan. Officials promised refunds, but the amount and process will be determined by “authorized ticket resellers” that handled the sales outside of Japan. Normally, these dealers charge close to 20% above the ticket price as a fee. At this point, it’s unclear if that fee will be refunded. The CEO of the organizing committee, Toshiro Muto, made it clear that they are not responsible for money lost on flights or hotel reservations.
On record, Japan is spending $15.4 billion to organize the Olympics, although some government audits say the actual price may be double. All but $6.7 billion is public money, making it the most expensive Olympics in history. This comes after the games were postponed until 2021 due to COVID-19. About 4.45 million ticketed Japanese residents will fill the new venues when the games start in July 2021.