TOKYO — Spectators from overseas will not be allowed to attend the Summer Olympics in Japan, organizers said on Saturday, making a major concession to the realities of Covid-19 even as they forged ahead with plans to hold the world’s largest sporting event.
Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo organizing committee, promised at a news conference on Saturday that the lack of international spectators would not spoil the Games.
“The Tokyo 2020 Games will be completely different from the past, but the essence remains the same,” Ms. Hashimoto said. “Athletes will put everything on the line and inspire people with their outstanding performances.”
The Tokyo Games, which begin in July, were originally scheduled for 2020 but were delayed by a year because of the pandemic. The Tokyo organizing committee has been scrambling to develop safety protocols to protect both participants and local residents from the virus.
announced this month that China had offered to provide vaccinations for participants who required one ahead of the Games.
But not all local spectators will have the chance to be inoculated before the Olympics open on July 23. In Japan, where the vaccine rollout has been relatively slow, the population will not be close to fully vaccinated by the time the Games start.
Japan has had about 455,000 Covid-19 cases and 8,797 deaths during the pandemic, far fewer than in the United States and Western Europe, according to a New York Times database. The country declared a widespread state of emergency in early January after a rise in infections. Since then, most areas have lifted the declaration. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced this week that it would end in Tokyo on Sunday.