Intimidated—presumably—by the concept of exposing the as-yet unvaccinated to the horrors of the worst medical epidemic to strike international sports since Bob Costas’ uber-gnarly pink eye, the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics (still, in defiance of the powerful forces of Big Calendar, being referred to as the “2020 Summer Games”) have announced that they will not allow international spectators to attend the event. The decision, announced this morning ahead of the July 23 kick-off of the Games, is expected to cost literally billions of dollars in international travel and tourism revenue, plus refunds for the 600,000 tickets already sold to out-of-country attendees.
The Olympics—predicated, as they are, on jamming thousands of people into close quarters so they can yell at each other while watching other people breathe extremely hard—have always been, let’s say, dicey as a prospect for COVID-era entertainment. The slow rollout of vaccinations in Japan hasn’t helped those prospects, and Deadline notes that a poll recently conducted in Japan was largely against holding the games this year. (It’s hard to blame them; if we lived on an already densely populated island, the idea of inviting untold hordes of bodies, and all those bodies’ microscopic, murderous passengers, to come hang out and spit on stuff would probably be pretty daunting, too.)
The decision to bar international travelers was made in conjunction between the organizers of the Games, the International Olympic Committee, and the International Paralympic Committee, as well as with local government and the Japanese government as a whole. (The Paralympic Games start in August, and will face similar restrictions.)