The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo did not take place as expected due to COVID-19. The International Olympic Committee delayed the games by a year and created questions about whether fans would fly to Japan in 2021. The Tokyo Games are drawing close amid reports that foreign fans will not be allowed.
According to a Japanese newspaper, Mainichi, the decision has already been made to exclude foreign fans. The outlet cited sources involved in the decision and said that the final decision will be made "within the month." An unnamed government official told the newspaper that "In the current situation it is impossible to bring in foreign spectators." Additionally, the Japanese government is continuing to investigate the possibility of holding the upcoming Tokyo Games with domestic spectators and considering the size of the in-person crowd.
The Olympic Games are set to begin on July 23, 2021. There will be thousands of people on hand, a list that includes 11,000 Olympic athletes, 4,400 Paralympians, and tens of thousands of coaches, judges, sponsors, media, and VIPs. According to Sports Illustrated, the IOC will not require vaccinations, though IOC President Thomas Bach said that he is encouraged by the number of athletes getting vaccinated.
“There I can inform you that a considerable number of national Olympic committees has already secured this pre-Tokyo vaccination,” Bach said. He added that he hopes
"to have as many participants as possible arriving vaccinated to Tokyo." Bach visited Tokyo in November and explained that having as many athletes as possible vaccinated will help create a safe environment.
If the Tokyo Games proceed as planned without fans in attendance, there could be additional issues due to the cost. SI reports that this year's event will be the "most expensive Olympics on record." The official cost is $15.4 billion. However, the outlet reports that two government audits suggest that the cost could be twice as much.
The organizing committee reportedly has a budgeted income of $800 million from ticket sales. This number will be considerably smaller without the foreign fans in attendance, especially if a smaller domestic crowd attends. SI reports that the host country of Japan will have to make up for the shortfall with government entities.
NBC's primetime coverage of the Olympics will kick off on Friday, Jul. 23 with the network's first-ever live morning broadcast of the Opening Ceremony. It will start at 6:55 a.m. ET, and it's anticipated to be "the first major global gathering since the worldwide pandemic began last year."