The Tokyo Olympics may be played to near-empty stands with fans from abroad banned from attending, according to a report.
"In the current situation it is impossible to bring in foreign spectators," a government official said, The Associated Press reported Wednesday, citing a Japanese newspaper.
The decision to exclude foreign fans from the previously-postponed games — which remain set to kick off July 23 in Tokyo — could cost upwards of $800 million in lost ticket sales, according to The AP.
"We will focus on the essentials," International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach told the wire service. "That means mainly the competitions. This has to be the clear focus. In this respect we may have to set one or another priority."
A final decision on the guest policy will be made in the coming weeks.
The move to exclude fans from other countries has been something the IOC has debated for months amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in Japan. Last month, the country extended its state of emergency, including for cities Tokyo and Osaka.
Beyond fans, the IOC has laid out strict protocols athletes will have to follow, including banning gestures like hugs, high-fives, and handshakes to reduce contact; and requiring athletes traveling to Japan to get tested within 72 hours of their departure and complete an "activity plan" for their first two weeks in the country.
In total, 11,000 Olympic athletes, 4,400 Paralympians, and tens of thousands of support staff like coaches, judges, sponsors, and media are expected to attend the games, according to the AP.
While the games remain a few months away, the next host is already preparing for the 2024 Olympics: Paris is planning to strip off paint and rust on the iconic Eiffel Tower and apply a new layer of gold paint to get it ready for the games.
Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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