News & Politics

International Fans Barred From Tokyo Olympics

(Daisuke Suzuki/Kyodo News via AP)

Organizers of the 2020 Olympics in Japan, which had been delayed a year due to the pandemic, announced that the games will be closed to international spectators because of ongoing concerns about the coronavirus.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, and the Government of Japan made the decision. Early this year, word leaked that the Japanese government was hesitant about even hosting the games, so the ban on international spectators may not come as a complete surprise.

The games will be held but Japan will not allow any foreigners to enter the country in order to watch them.

A statement released yesterday tried to put the best face on the debacle.

Yahoo Sports:

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.

That the games are even being held is ludicrous. Seiko Hashimoto, the new president of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, cast about for a reason to continue with the games.

In many ways the Tokyo 2020 Games will be completely different to any previous Games. However, the essential 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.

You have to wonder how safe it’s going to be for the athletes and officials. In 2016, there were 14,000 athletes involved, not including officials, judges, referees, training and medical staff for each team in each event, national team authorities as well as authorities in every event, and the usual cadre of the international Olympic committee flunkies.

It’s safe for them but not for international fans?

I’m usually very selective about what events I watch — a few track and field events and some odds and ends. It doesn’t matter to me whether the games go on or not. As a spectacle, the Olympics lost their allure a few decades ago. Now, it’s just a vehicle for huge corporations to wrap themselves in the flag and networks to lose another couple of billion dollars broadcasting the “prestige” of the Olympics.

I hope it’s a good week of Law and Order reruns.

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