By Antonio Hermosín Gandul
Tokyo, Mar 30 (efe-epa).- The Tokyo Olympics faces a rarefied atmosphere after the organizers decided on its bubble format, with no foreign spectators allowed.
The decision came a year after the announcement of new dates and less than four months before the kickoff.
On Mar.30, 2020, the organizers announced that the Games would begin on July 23, 2021.
The agreement on the new dates was reached with the International Olympic Committee six days after the pandemic forced the event suspension.
Weeks of rumors had clouded the Olympics’ fate after a period of uncertainty that got cleared in recent months, with the Games set to be different from the initial plans due to the health crisis.
In an unprecedented decision in the history of the sporting event, the organizing committee announced on Mar.20 that no foreign visitor would be allowed to watch the Games in Tokyo.
The restriction to prevent Covid-19 infections could mean a big economic blow for Japan, apart from dampening the enthusiasm in Tokyo.
Sales of around 8 million tickets could have generated an estimated revenue of nearly 90 billion yen ($815 million).
Distributors outside Japan had already sold around 600,000 tickets. Those have to be refunded now.
One of the affected by the new rules is Shelly Aniba, an American who has been a long-time Olympics buff and had attended the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Aniba bought tickets in the United States and would not be able to use them despite being a Japanese resident for four years.
“It is very disappointing,” Aniba told EFE.
However, she agreed with the decision to ban foreigners.
Similarly, another 4.45 million tickets were sold in Japan. But around 810,000 buyers have sought refunds after the date change.
It is still not clear how many spectators will be allowed to watch the competitions.
But it is expected that stadiums will be allowed to have around half of their capacities filled, a norm followed in local sports competitions.
Polls have shown a majority of the Japanese were unhappy with the Olympics held amid the pandemic.
The event popularity has also taken a hit due to several controversies surrounding the organizers.
These include an escalating budget and the sexist comments by former president Yoshiro Mori.