Spectators from Abroad May Not Be Permitted to Attend Upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo

·4 min read

BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Man in mask standing near Olympic rings in Tokyo

Fans from overseas will reportedly likely not be permitted to attend the Summer Olympics in Tokyo this year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Japanese outlet Mainichi reported Wednesday that officials are moving toward a decision about spectators, namely fans traveling from abroad to see the event in person this summer, noting that the priority is the competitors.

Unspecified sources, according to the newspaper, were "involved in the discussions," and officials will make a final decision "within the month." Mainichi also quoted a "source close to the government" as saying, "In the current situation, it is impossible to bring in foreign spectators."

Bloomberg reports that a final decision will be made by March 25 and that decisions regarding domestic fans will be made next month. The outlet also attributed the announcement of limitation decisions to Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, who spoke at a press conference on Wednesday.

"We will focus on the essentials," International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said at a virtual meeting on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. "That means mainly the competitions. This has to be the clear focus. In this respect we may have to set one or another priority."

The IOC confirmed to PEOPLE that the decision on international spectators will be made before the end of the month.

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CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Tokyo Summer Olympics logo

RELATED: Tokyo Olympics Introduce Strict New Protocols for Games, Including Physical Touch Restrictions

Back in March of last year, the IOC's executive board met to finalize the postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics and announced that the event would instead be held from July 23 through Aug. 8, 2021.

In response to a report from The Times of London that the Games would be canceled, the local organizing committee responded in a January statement that the Olympics were still on and had the support of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

"All our delivery partners including the national government, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, the IOC and the IPC [International Paralympic Committee] are fully focused on hosting the games this summer," read the statement, according to ESPN. "We hope that daily life can return to normal as soon as possible, and we will continue to make every effort to prepare for a safe and secure games."

At the time, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee noted that it hadn't been informed of any change in the status of the upcoming event.

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Last month, the IOC published the first of its official Tokyo 2020 Playbooks that outline rules and regulations that will be put into place at the Games — including a ban on physical touch.

Under the new rules, athletes and officials must wear a face mask "at all times" unless they are sleeping, eating, or at least six feet away from others while outside. Physical contact, such as hugs, handshakes, and high-fives, should also be avoided, the playbook states.

In addition, athletes and officials will not be able to use public transportation without permission. Athletes are also barred from visiting venues as spectators.

Spectators are encouraged to support the competing athletes by "clapping and not singing or chanting" from the stands, the rules state. The number of spectators being allowed at the Games is yet to be determined.

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