No international fans will be permitted at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, organisers say.
Japanese authorities told the Olympic and Paralympic committees it was “highly unlikely” that entry to the country could be guaranteed.
Organisers said the move would help ensure “a safe and secure Games for all participants and the Japanese public”.
The Games are due to begin on 23 July.
The Paralympics follow the Olympics a month later, from 24 August.
Organiser said they had made the move to bar overseas spectators “to give clarity to ticket holders”, who will be refunded.
They added that the “challenging” Covid-19 situation in Japan and many other countries, global travel restrictions and emergence of variant strains of the virus had led to the decision.
Organisers postponed the Olympics by a year in March last year because of the growing spread of coronavirus across the world.
‘Difficult decisions need to be made’
It is the first time in the event’s history it has been postponed, with more than 11,000 athletes from around 200 countries scheduled to take part in 2020.
International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons said “difficult decisions” had to be made with safety the “top priority”.
“It goes without saying that in an ideal world we would prefer to have international spectators at the Games, allowing families, friends and fans to cheer on their loved ones and all athletes,” he said.
“But at the moment we must acknowledge that due to the global pandemic we are not living in an ideal world.”
The exclusion of international fans comes as another major financial blow to the Tokyo Games.
Costs for the Games have increased by $2.8bn (£2.1bn) because of measures needed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 but organisers have consistently ruled out a delay.
Earlier this year, Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga said the Games would be “safe and secure” and could serve as a “symbol of global solidarity”.
However, a poll at that time by national broadcaster NHK showed the majority of the Japanese general public oppose holding the Games in 2021, favouring a further delay or outright cancellation of the event.
Japan has also encountered problems unrelated to the pandemic, with the head of the Tokyo Olympics organising committee Yoshiro Mori resigning after he was criticised for making “inappropriate” remarks about women.
The Tokyo Games’ creative chief then also resigned after suggesting a female comedian could appear as an “Olympig” at the opening ceremony.