The COVID-19 pandemic forced the postponement of several notable events, including the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. While there have been notable improvements in the fight against COVID-19, the Japanese committees in charge of the Olympic Games recently announced that no foreign spectators will be allowed to enter Japan.
“Currently, the COVID-19 situation in Japan and many other countries around the world is still very challenging and a number of variant strains have emerged, whilst international travel remains severely restricted globally,” the committees wrote in a press release. “Based on the present situation of the pandemic, it is highly unlikely that entry into Japan will be guaranteed this summer for people from overseas.”
While the statement by the Japanese parties expressed a certain level of uncertainty surrounding the decision to allow foreign spectators into the country of Japan to attend the games, the statement by the International Olympic and Paralympic committees was more absolute.
“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,” the official Olympics website reads.
While many around the globe understand the challenges posed by the ongoing effects of the pandemic, some have suggested that the restriction on spectators entering the country goes against the international spirit of the Olympic Games and question if athletes’ performance will suffer.
“Not allowing foreign spectators to the Olympics would create a difference in an athlete’s morale to compete for their nation,” said Trennon Williamson, junior Christian studies major. “The games will be affected, just as when you are playing in a home or away game in any sport. Although the impact is minimal it still takes away from the Olympic environment for all the athletes and the countries participating.”
Some say that while the actual effect of the lack of foreign spectators on the athlete’s performance is negligible, others note that the psychological effects of having their country’s spectators excluded can be significant for the athletes.
“The U.S. supporters, as well as every other competing nation, will not be able to share their nation’s pride in support of their athletes,” said Gabriel Bartlett, junior mechanical engineering major. “From my point of view, coming from someone with a long athletic history, an athlete will perform better knowing that their nation is given the equal opportunity to support their talented athletes. No one wants to support their country while their country cannot support them.”