No overseas fans will be permitted to attend the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, organizers have confirmed today at a five-party meeting.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC), International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo 2020, and the Japanese Government met virtually to discuss the issue.
Japanese officials concluded that the current COVID-19 situation made it unlikely that they could guarantee entry to international fans for the Games.
"During the meeting, the IOC and IPC were informed about the conclusion of the Japanese parties not to allow entry into Japan for overseas spectators for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 due to the prevailing worldwide COVID-19 pandemic," a statement read.
"Olympic and Paralympic tickets purchased by overseas residents from the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee will be refunded.
"Currently, the COVID-19 situation in Japan and many other countries around the world is still very challenging and a number of variant strains have emerged, whilst international travel remains severely restricted globally.
"Based on the present situation of the pandemic, it is highly unlikely that entry into Japan will be guaranteed this summer for people from overseas.
"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.
"This conclusion will further contribute to ensuring safe and secure Games for all participants and the Japanese public."
The IOC and IPC said they "fully respect and accept this conclusion".
Organizers say ticket-holders from overseas will soon be informed about how to secure refunds.
About 4.5 million tickets have been sold to Japanese residents, with another estimated one million sold abroad.
Before the postponement a year ago, Tokyo 2020 was planning to sell 7.8 million tickets.
Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto said organizers were working on specific plans to help fans support the Games across the world
“In many ways, the Tokyo 2020 Games will be completely different to any previous Games,” Hashimoto said.
“However, the essentials of the Games will remain unchanged, as athletes give their utmost and inspire the world with transcendent performances.
“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.
“Even if you are no longer able to come to Japan this summer, we hope very much that you will continue to support the Tokyo 2020 Games.”
IOC President Thomas Bach said he was "truly sorry" to disappoint families and friends of athletes, who will now be unable to attend the Games.
Bach said the decision would mean a "great sacrifice", but said it was necessary to ensure the safety of the Games.
“We share the disappointment of all enthusiastic Olympic fans from around the world, and of course the families and friends of the athletes, who were planning to come to the Games,” Bach said.
“For this I am truly sorry.
"We know that this is a great sacrifice for everybody, we have said from the very beginning of this pandemic that it will require sacrifices.
“But we have also said that the first principle is safety.