Tokyo Olympics ready to announce ban on fans from abroad

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Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, speaks during a press conference Friday, March 19, 2021, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, Pool)

TOKYO – Tokyo organizers and the International Olympic Committee are poised to finally make it official that most fans from abroad will be prohibited from attending the postponed Olympics when they open in four months.

The announcement is expected to come after “five-party” talks on Saturday with the IOC, local organizers, the Japanese government, the Tokyo metropolitan government and the International Paralympic Committee.

“People are waiting eagerly for an early decision so they can move to the next step,” Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the organizing committee, said Friday in a news briefing. “We need to be able to make the decision soon.”

Despite some calls to delay it, Hashimoto has promised a decision before the torch relay opens on Thursday from the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima.

Hashimoto said all five parties will have to agree on the decision. But she said two have more influence than others: the IOC and the Japanese national government.

“All decisions will be made by the IOC in the end,” Hashimoto said. "When it comes to immigration, this is a matter for the national government at the border.”

Japanese media, citing unidentified sources, have said for several weeks that the decision on the ban had already been reached. Hashimoto declined to confirm it.

About 4.5 million tickets have been sold to Japan residents. Perhaps another 1 million have been sold abroad. Before the postponement a year ago, organizers said a total of 7.8 million tickets would be be available for the Tokyo Games.