Why Tokyo Olympics 2021 Won't Allow Spectators From Overseas

International spectators will not be allowed to enter Japan for the 2021 Summer Olympic Games due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, organizers announced on Saturday.

By Corinne Heller Mar 20, 2021 3:46 PMTags
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Five-time Olympic medalist and gymnastics superstar Simone Biles and other athletes are expected to compete in the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer. However, if and when they do, their fans from home will not be allowed to cheer them on in person.

Olympics organizers announced on Saturday, March 20 that international spectators will not be allowed to enter Japan for the event due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. The rapid spread of the virus around the world resulted in the postponement of the Games last year. Vaccines have begun to be distributed internationally in recent months. Still, there are fears of additional waves, amid the emergence of new variants of COVID-19.

"Currently, the COVID-19 situation in Japan and many other countries around the world is still very challenging and a number of variant strains have emerged, whilst international travel remains severely restricted globally," read a statement on the Tokyo Olympics website. "Based on the present situation of the pandemic, it is highly unlikely that entry into Japan will be guaranteed this summer for people from overseas."

The statement continued, "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. This conclusion will further contribute to ensure safe and secure Games for all participants and the Japanese public."

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Some 600,000 Olympic tickets purchased by overseas residents will be refunded, as will another 300,000 Paralympic tickets, Reuters quoted Toshiro Muto, the chief executive of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, as saying in a news conference. He declined to say how much the refunds would cost.

Muto also added that "people who are involved in the Olympics in some way may be allowed to enter the country, whereas regular visitors will not be able to," and that local spectators will still be able to attend and that audience caps will be decided next month, the news wire reported.

The Summer Olympics in Tokyo are set to take place between July 23 and Aug. 8, while the Paralympics run from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5. 

See which U.S. athletes are set to compete in the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo:

Nyjah Huston

Sport: Skateboarding

Status: Qualified for 2021 Summer Olympics! "I hope that skateboarding gets a lot of new fans out there and that people start to fall in love with it and get to realize that it's a really fun thing to do and a really fun thing to watch, especially as far as the competition goes," Nyjah explained to E! News. "I'm stoked that the Olympics finally put skateboarding in there."

Caeleb Dressel

Sport: Swimming

Status: TBD! All eyes are on the Olympic hopeful who is already being compared to Michael Phelps after he beat the swimmer's time in the 100m butterfly. 

Caroline Marks

Sport: Surfing

Status: Qualified for 2021 Summer Olympics

Simone BIles

Sport: Gymnastics

Status: TBD. "Hopefully the Olympics can still be put on, even if it means we're in a bubble. I'll basically do anything at this moment…It just is a matter of time until we hear what the Olympic Committee has to say and what their precautions are going to be going forward," she said on NBC's Today show in January 2021. "But whatever they say they want us to do, I'm in 100 percent."

Sally Jepkosgei Kipyego

Sport: Distance Running

Status: Qualified for 2021 Summer Olympics

Katie Ledecky

Sport: Swimming

Status: TBD! "I'm just focused on my same goals," the Olympian shared on Today this summer. "We know we have another year to prepare and I'm going to try to use this year to improve and use it as an opportunity."

John John Florence

Sport: Surfing

Status: Qualified for 2021 Summer Olympics

Michael Phelps

Sport: Swimming

Status: Retired! After making history with his gold medal wins, Michael is a proud husband and father of three focused on expanding his foundation. He is also set to appear in HBO Sports' upcoming documentary The Weight of Gold

Haley Anderson

Sport: Swimming 

Status: Qualified for 2021 Summer Olympics

Gabby Douglas

Sport: Gymnastics 

Status: TBD! All signs point to an Olympic athlete who is ready to enjoy other opportunities like acting and training up-and-coming gymnasts. "I'm just so grateful that I get to experience the world and other people and to just be in this position," she told Pop Sugar in 2019. 

Aliphine Tuliamuk

Sport: Marathon Running

Status: Qualified for 2021 Summer Olympics

Ryan Lochte

Sport: Swimming 

Status: Does not qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. In June 2021, he placed seventh in the 200-meter individual medley at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials in Omaha, Nebraska. To be eligible to compete in the Olympics, he would have needed to come in first or second.

"I still want to race, but as far as another Olympic trials, I don't know about that," he told reporters. "I'll be 40. That's pushing it. But we'll see. I mean, anything can happen. I can take years off and come back and be stronger than ever, who knows."

Carissa Moore

Sport: Surfing

Status: Qualified for 2021 Summer Olympics

Missy Franklin

Sport: Swimming

Status: Retired! Back in Dec. 2018, the five-time Olympic gold medalist announced she was finished with competitive swimming. "It took me a long time to say the words, 'I am retiring,'" she wrote to ESPN. "A long, long time. But now I'm ready. I'm ready to not be in pain every day. I'm ready to become a wife, one day a mother. I'm ready to continue growing each and every day to be the best person and role model I can be. I'm ready for the rest of my life."

Jordan Wilimovsky

Sport: Swimming 

Status: Qualified for 2021 Summer Olympics

Allyson Felix

Sport: Track & Field

Status: TBD! The four-time Olympian previously told ESPN that she is training on city streets or whatever green spaces haven't been closed because of Coronavirus restrictions in California. "I'm used to fighting," she shared. "That's what we've been doing. Now we just continue on. You get your focus and do what you have to do."

Jade Carey

Sport: Gymnastics

Status: Qualified for 2021 Summer Olympics

Conor Dwyer

Sport: Swimming

Status: Retired! Back in Oct. 2019, Conor announced he was done with competing. "It has been an incredible ride and I have accomplished more than my wildest dreams," he wrote on Instagram. "It was an honor to represent my country alongside my teammates."

Nathan Adrian

Sport: Swimming

Status: TBD! The Olympian is hoping to earn more medals in 2021. "Trainings actually been going really well all things considered," he shared on Today. "Right when we got into shelter in place, I ordered some weights and got that for my garage. Our Olympic sized pools are still closed so we're training in some smaller pools but we're grateful to be in the water."

Check out E! News' 2022 Beijing Olympics homepage for news, photos and more.