Japan’s Mainichi newspaper reports that “The Japanese government has begun preparations to host the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer without accepting overseas spectators.”
Citing sources involved in those conversations, the move is in response to public concerns over the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.
Associated Press reported today that after meetings with International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee and other government officials, the new Tokyo Games organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto wouldn’t confirm the report from Mainichi, but did say “If the situation is tough and it would make the (Japanese) consumers concerned, that is a situation we need to avoid from happening.”
Hashimoto says that a decision on foreign spectators at the Games will be made by the end of March.
After it was decided to postpone the Games for a year – they are scheduled to start on July 23 – polls have shown the Japanese public overwhelmingly wants the Games to either be cancelled or postponed again. That’s in part due to the pandemic, but also in response to ballooning costs. The 2013 budget for the Games when Tokyo secured the bid in 2013 was US$7.3 billion. The latest estimate for the Games is over US$15 billion after officials announced that the postponement to 2021 would add another US$2.8 billion to the total. Government audits released in December 2019 put the costs at over US$25 billion, though.
Losing fans for the Games will only add to what has become the most expensive Olympic Summer Games in history.