Japan bans international spectators from 2020 Olympics

TOKYO — International spectators will be prohibited from attending the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo when the games start in four months, organizers said on Saturday.

>> Read more trending news

The move was rumored for months but made official after an online meeting that included the International Olympic Committee, the Japanese government, Tokyo government officials, the International Paralympic Committee and local organizers.

“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,” the Tokyo organizing committee said in a statement.

Officials said the risk during a pandemic was too great to allow international ticket holders to attend. The country is seen as having responded to the pandemic better than many other countries. There have been about 8,800 deaths from the coronavirus in Japan.

About 1 million tickets have already been sold outside of Japan. Organizers have promised refunds, although it is unclear if some ticket fees will be refunded as well.

The ban comes just days before the Olympic torch relay, which starts Thursday in Fukushima. It lasts 121 days and will crisscross the country, with 10,000 runners participating. It ends July 23 at the opening ceremony at National Stadium in Tokyo.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.