Reports out of Japan are that the government has decided to exclude overseas spectators from attending this summer's Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, as part of efforts to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, officials with knowledge of the matter said Tuesday.
The government and the Japanese organizing committee of the Summer Games are expected to hold a remote meeting with the International Olympic Committee and two other bodies possibly next week to make a formal decision on the issue of overseas visitors.
The government has concluded that welcoming fans from abroad is not possible given concerns among the Japanese public over the coronavirus and the fact that more contagious variants have been detected in many countries, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
While Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Wednesday a decision on spectators is up to the IOC, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and the games' organizing committee, he said that Olympics minister Tamayo Marukawa, in a meeting with representatives from each, stressed the need to carefully consider whether to let in foreign spectators, citing uncertainty about the coronavirus including its variants.
Japan continues to halt new entries of foreign nationals in principle as it is taking more time than initially expected for the government to stem the number of infections, which peaked at more than 2,500 cases per day in Tokyo in early January.
With the decision, the government will also have to review its growth strategy, given that expectations for inbound visitors to revive the Japanese economy was high, especially before the games were delayed for one year due to the outbreak of the virus.
The Olympics are due to take place between July 23rd and August 8th, followed by the Paralympics from August 24th to September 5th.