IOC Announces International Spectators Will Be Barred from Tokyo Olympics


After the chaotic events of 2020 caused the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to be delayed into this year, many wondered if the global situation would be any better in 2021. The International Olympic Committee, which oversees the administration of the Olympic Games, has announced that international spectators won’t be allowed to sit in the stands of the games.

The move had been expected for months as a response to the current global climate, due in no small part to the same crisis that saw the Olympics pushed back in the first place. While discussion of such delays and moves is old hat by now, this move was still unprecedented for the IOC, which often tries to make the games as much of an international spectacle as possible.

Japan Continues to Recover

After the 2020 closures and delays, Japan is continuing to recover its economy and get back to normal. However, the move to stop international spectators from flooding into Tokyo to see the Olympic Games seems to have been made in the interest of safety, instead of as an attempt for outreach.

“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,” said the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee.

Chaos Continues

At the time of this writing, it is unclear if ticket holders will be able to receive a refund. Around 1 million people outside of Japan have purchased tickets to the event, though these ticketholders will not be able to enter Japan or visit the games. It will be likely that refunds will be handled by the authorized ticket vendors themselves that sold the tickets outside of Japan.

“We could wait until the very last moment to decide, except for the spectators,” stated the organizing committee’s president, Seiko Hashimoto. “They have to secure accommodations and flights. So we have to decide early otherwise we will cause a lot of inconvenience from them. I know this is a very tough issue.”

Budget shortfalls for the events will need to be made up by the Japanese government. The country expected some $800 million to come from ticket sales, one of the largest contributions to the event’s budget. Now, the country will have to make up the difference out of its own pocket.