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You Won't Be Able To Travel To Japan For The Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Organizers said that the decision to bar overseas spectators was meant "to give clarity to ticket holders living overseas and to enable them to adjust their travel plans."

Posted on March 20, 2021, at 12:42 p.m. ET

A man and his dog stands by a sculpture of the interlaced Olympic rings
Philip Fong / Getty Images

If you were looking forward to traveling to Japan for the Tokyo Olympics this year, you're going to have to change your plans.

Organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Games — which had already been delayed by one year because of the coronavirus pandemic — announced Saturday that international spectators will be barred from the Summer Olympics and Paralympics.

Citing the restrictions on international travel, organizers said in a statement that there was no guarantee that Japan would be allowing international visitors to enter the country by the summer.

The decision to bar foreign fans was made "to give clarity to ticket holders living overseas and to enable them to adjust their travel plans at this stage," the statement said.

Japan has banned most foreign entry into the country as part of its COVID-19 restrictions, and only recently lifted a state of emergency in some prefectures.

Tickets purchased by those overseas will be refunded. Organizers said that 600,000 tickets were sold outside of Japan.

There had been speculation in the months leading up to the announcement about whether the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee would allow foreigners at the games. Committee President Seiko Hashimoto hinted in early March that they would not.

That the games were scheduled to go ahead at all was contentious; a poll by national outlet NHK earlier this year found that a vast majority of Japanese wanted the games to be canceled or postponed again.

"In many ways the Tokyo 2020 Games will be completely different to any previous Games," Hashimoto said in a statement Saturday. "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."

The postponement of the 2020 Olympics last year was the first time in the modern era that the timing of the games was affected by an event other than war.

Organizers said that it would still be called the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

There have been more than 455,000 COVID-19 cases in Japan to date, and 8,802 deaths. Its vaccine rollout is still in the early stages, with only frontline workers eligible to be vaccinated. As of Saturday, Japan has administered 0.46 doses per 100 people.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.