SPORTS DESK -- The Japanese government has decided to bar foreign spectators from entering the country in the summer to attend the Olympics and Paralympics out of concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, state-run Kyodo news agency reported, citing a source familiar with the matter.
The government and the Japanese organizing committee for the Summer Olympics are expected to hold a virtual meeting with the International Olympic Committee and other stakeholders, possibly next week, to make a formal decision on whether to allow foreign spectators, Kyodo said.
It was the Covid-19 pandemic that forced Japan to postpone the 2020 Summer Games and the country's leaders have concluded that foreign fans cannot be allowed in light of the Japanese people's concerns that international travelers could introduce the more contagious variants detected in other nations, Kyodo added.
The Olympic Summer Games are scheduled for July 23-Aug. 8, with the Paralympics to follow from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.
Japan continues to ban international arrivals, as the government has been taking longer than initially expected to reduce the number of infections.
At the beginning of January, Tokyo authorities were detecting more than 2,500 new cases a day.
"We would really like people from around the world to come to a full stadium, but unless we are prepared to accept them and the medical situation in Japan is perfect, it will cause a great deal of trouble also to visitors from overseas," Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, told reporters last week.
Barring foreign spectators for the Olympics and Paralympics has implications for the government's economic policy, as officials had been counting on an influx of visitors to provide a much-needed stimulus.