KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Foreign fans will be barred from attending the rescheduled Olympic Games in Tokyo in July and August.

The Tokyo 2020 organising committee, in making a formal announcement which had been expected for some weeks, said that the cost of around 600,000 tickets already bought by would-be visitors to Japan will be refunded. So will the costs of  a further 300,000 tickets to the Paralympic Games.

Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, was involved in the talks ahead of the announcement. Tokyo 2020 ceo Toshiro Muto and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga have insisted the Games will go ahead, despite opposition from within Japan.

A statement said the decision had been tajken to “ensure safe and secure Games for all participants and the Japanese public.”

Muto said: “People who are involved in the Olympics in some way may be allowed to enter the country, whereas regular visitors will not be able to.”

Costs for hotel cancellations would not be covered.

The Games are scheduled for July 23 to August 8, and the Paralympics from August 24 to September 5.

IOC and IPC statement:

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) were today informed by the Japanese parties in the five-parties meeting about their conclusion regarding overseas spectators at the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 this summer. For the reason of the safety of every Games participant and the Japanese people, their conclusion is fully respected and accepted by the IOC and the IPC.

During the meeting, the IOC and the IPC were informed that, as outlined in the full statement by Tokyo 2020, the conclusion of the Japanese parties is not to allow entry into Japan for overseas spectators for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 due to the prevailing worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Olympic and Paralympic Games tickets purchased by overseas residents from the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee will be refunded.

“We share the disappointment of all enthusiastic Olympic fans from around the world, and of course the families and friends of the athletes, who were planning to come to the Games,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “For this I am truly sorry. We know that this is a great sacrifice for everybody. We have said from the very beginning of this pandemic that it will require sacrifices.

“But we have also said that the first principle is safety. Every decision has to respect the principle of safety first. I know that our Japanese partners and friends did not reach this conclusion lightly. Together with them, the IOC’s top priority was, is and remains to organise safe Olympic and Paralympic Games for everyone: all the participants and, of course, our gracious hosts, the Japanese people. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder at the side of our Japanese partners and friends, without any kind of reservation, to make the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 a great success.

“Together with our Rights-Holding Broadcasters, we will make every effort so that the fans from around the world will be able to experience the Olympic spirit. In this way, the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be the light at the end of the tunnel and a safe manifestation of peace, solidarity and the resilience of humankind in overcoming the pandemic.”