In early March, the Kyodo news agency reported that Japan would not allow foreign fans to attend the rescheduled 2020 Olympics starting on July 23, 2021. The reason for the ongoing ban of foreigners is the continued precautions related to the coronavirus pandemic. Before this news, there was growing concern that the Olympics would or would not occur in the summer of 2021. Some believe the risk for a super spreader event is too high, while others believe that safety measures will work. All seem to agree that the event could not be delayed again without impacting the upcoming Beijing 2022 and Paris 2024 games.
Japan more cautious
Unlike some other countries, Japan has exercised an abundance of caution in fighting the virus, with only 8,000 deaths amid a population of 126 million citizens. Officials remain concerned with allowing athletes, support staff and officials into the country, which is why they issued a 33-page guide for all health and safety protocols involving testing, tracking and mask mandates. They also expect athletes to get vaccinated before participating, but it is not required. One notable additional precaution: Fans will not be allowed to cheer, yell or sing at the games, but they can clap.
As with virtually all events over the past year, the Olympics will strike a balance between how life was pre-pandemic and how life is currently. While the in-person experience will certainly be different, it remains to be seen if those of us watching from home will notice a difference in atmosphere.