Tokyo Olympics Will Bar International Travelers In Move Costing Billions

In a crushing economic blow to Japan, the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will not have attendance from international travelers. Tokyo organizers made the decision along with the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee and the national and local governments in Japan.

Officials said today they would meet in April to discuss how many spectators already in Japan would be allowed into Olympic venues. The rollout of vaccines in Japan has been slow, and the July 23 opening of the games doesn’t provide enough time to get everyone vaccinated.

The foreign travelers bar means the organizers will have to provide refunds of an estimated 600,000 tickets to the Olympics and 30,000 tickets to the Paralympic games, which start in August.

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The organizing committees will now have the enormous headache of arranging refunds for ticket buyers. Overseas buyers purchased 600,000 tickets to Olympic events, as well as 30,000 tickets to the Paralympic Games starting in August, organizers said. The Paralympics will also bar spectators from abroad.

Tokyo organizers previously said that 7.8 million tickets would be made available. Reports indicate anywhere from 10 percent to 20 percent of Olympics tickets are purchased by international spectators. Beyond that, the influx of tourists boosts hotel room occupancy, restaurants, transportation and other services in the country.

Katsuhiro Miyamoto, a professor of theoretical economics at Kansai University, calculated the economic impact of holding Tokyo 2020 without spectators. He estimated that holding the Olympics and Paralympics without spectators would result in a $23.1 billion economic loss for Japan.

Event organizers are downplaying that impact even as they forge ahead.

“The Tokyo 2020 Games will be completely different from the past, but the essence remains the same,” said Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo Olympics committee. “Athletes will put everything on the line and inspire people with their outstanding performances.”

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