Due to the ongoing corona threat, at best, only Japanese will attend the Olympics in their capital Tokyo this summer. The financial hangover is getting worse.
Nafi Thiam, Wout Van Aert and the Red Lions will have to complete their hunt for Olympic gold this summer without any encouragement from accompanying Belgian supporters. The Japanese organizing committee announced on Saturday that it would not allow foreign spectators to the Olympic Games. For the time being, the Japanese will be allowed to attend the world’s largest sports event, although this will also be discussed in April.
The persistent corona threat is forcing the Asian host country to take this drastic action. The Tokyo Summer Games will take place from July 23 to August 8. They were actually planned last summer, but the global corona pandemic has postponed the world’s largest sporting event for a year. Polls in recent months have shown that a large part of the Japanese population is in favor of new postponement or even cancellation, given the ongoing health crisis.
Due to strict measures and border controls, Japan has only 455,000 infections and 8,800 deaths after a year of coronalization. That is more than half less than in Belgium, while it has more than ten times as many inhabitants. The arrival of millions of foreign tourists threatened to increase the risk of contamination. The ban on non-Japanese sports fans should now allay those fears.
The financial hangover for Japan is only likely to get worse. With a price tag of 13 billion euros for new infrastructure – a multiple of what was initially budgeted – Tokyo 2021 will in any case be the most expensive edition of the Summer Games ever. The one-year delay led to billions in lost income, and without foreigners, that will only increase in the future.
For the corona pandemic, Tokyo hoped for 40 million visitors and 100 billion euros in revenues. Presumably the stadiums will soon be largely filled with only Japanese supporters, which will secure at least part of the ticketing income. But the billions in revenues for hotels, restaurants, cafes and local shops will dry up considerably if foreign fans will soon be able to watch the sports spectacle only in front of their own television.