The Summer Olympics will have much less international flair than usual.
The Tokyo Games are expected to commence July 23, as expected, but Japan is blocking overseas fans from attending events, reported the Kyodo News agency on Tuesday.
“In the current situation it is impossible to bring in foreign spectators,” an unnamed official told the Japanese newspaper Mainichi last week.
The prohibition of non-Japanese spectators had been the likely conclusion for months as the virulent COVID-19 pandemic has infected more than 117 million people worldwide.
Olympic competitors are expected to reside in a bubble village near Tokyo Bay and remain there until their departure, and organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said a decision on venue capacity will be reached by the end of April, noted The Associated Press.
“We need to look at the overall situation before we decide on any percentage rates,” Hashimoto said. “We believe we will not be accepted unless the citizens feel confident that sufficient countermeasures are taken.”
Japan has done a relatively formidable job in limiting COVID-19 cases nationwide. As of Tuesday, the country has reported 8,358 fatalities, according to health tracker Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S., with a population roughly 2.5 times greater than Japan, has a death rate 60 times larger than the Asian nation of 125 million inhabitants.