International fans “unlikely” at Tokyo Games

After a Japanese newspaper reported that there weren’t going to be spectators at this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Associated Press reports that the new Tokyo organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto has “hinted” that could be the case.

“If the situation is tough and it would make the (Japanese) consumers concerned, that is a situation we need to avoid from happening,” Hashimoto said after meetings with the IOC president Thomas Bach, International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons and other Japanese government officials.

A story from Japan’s Mainichi newspaper earlier reported that “The Japanese government has begun preparations to host the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Parlympic Games this summer without accepting overseas spectators.”

Bach also made clear in his comments that the competition components of the Games would be the first priority.

Polls have shown that the Japanese public are opposed to the Games happening during the pandemic. In addition to fears about the spread of the Coranavirus COVID-19 and its variants, the high cost of the games has also been cited as a concern. When it bid on the Games in 2013, Tokyo listed the cost at US$7.3 billion, but that number ballooned to US$12.6 billion before the Games were postponed last year. Officials have said the delay will add another US$2.8 billion to the total, but government audits have suggested the true cost might be as much as US$25 billion.

Losing international fans could only add to the financial hit of the Games – according to AP “the organizing committee has budgeted income of $800 million from ticket sales.”