Japan Could Lose $800M in Olympic Ticket Sales if Games Have no Spectators

The local organizing committee for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games could be facing a potential loss of $800 million from ticket sales if organizers decide not to allow spectators at the upcoming Games.

If fans are not allowed at Olympic venues, the loss of revenue will be covered by Japanese government entities, not the International Olympic Committee, the Associated Press reported.

Banning all fans from the Olympics would be a reversal of a decision spelled out 10 days ago by organizers to allow a limited number of local fans — up to 10,000 — to attend. Fans from abroad were banned months ago as too great a risk.

The possible about-face is being forced by rising new infections in Tokyo, the appearance of the rapidly spreading Delta variant, and fears that the Olympics and Paralympics with 15,400 athletes and tens of thousands of others entering Japan could turn into a super-spreader event.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Japan Could Lose $800M if No Spectators
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike (on a screen) and Tamayo Marukawa, Minister for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, speak during a five-party meeting at Harumi Island Triton Square Tower Y on June 21, 2021. The Japanese government could lose $800 million if they do not allow spectators to attend the games. Rodrigo Marin/Getty Images

"The situation of infection changes and how it will be — it is still unclear," Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the Tokyo organizing committee, said Friday. "But from Tokyo 2020's perspective, we also include an option of not having spectators."

Yet another decision on fans could be announced next week after a meeting of the IOC, local organizers, the Japanese government, Tokyo metropolitan government officials, and the International Paralympic Committee.

"It's not that we are determined to have spectators regardless of the situation," Hashimoto said.

The government's top COVID-19 adviser, Dr. Shigeru Omi, has said repeatedly that the safest option is without any fans.

"We will continue to closely watch the infection situation and think what would be best, and mainly consider no spectators," Yuriko Koike, governor of Tokyo, said.

Koike was speaking at a briefing after being hospitalized for more than a week with what was described as "severe fatigue." She denied she was hospitalized for COVID-19 and said she tested negative.

Koike also repeated that all Tokyo legs of the torch relay would be taken off public roads until July 16, except those on remote Tokyo islands. It is unclear what form the torch relay — repeatedly delayed and rerouted since it started in March from northeastern Japan — will take after that.

"I know many people were looking forward to this and I really regret we had to come to a decision like this," she said.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga also said that the option of empty venues was still being considered.

"I have made clear that having no spectators is a possibility," Suga said Thursday.
The decision on fans announced last week would allow all outdoor and indoor venues to accommodate up to 50 percent of capacity, but not to exceed 10,000.

Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the Tokyo organizing committee, said thousands of officials, sponsors, Olympic dignitaries, and others holding tickets would be allowed to enter venues, over and above any limits for spectators. He said they were not "technically" classed as fans, but rather as "organizers."

It's not clear if those VIPs would be allowed to attend if all other fans were banned, a situation that would likely anger many ordinary fans in Japan.

The IOC is pushing ahead with the Olympics, partially because almost 75 percent of its income is from the sale of broadcast rights. Estimates suggest the IOC could lose between $3 billion and $4 billion in broadcast income were the Olympics canceled.

The official cost of the Olympics is $15.4 billion, although government audits suggest it is much higher. All but $6.7 billion is public money. The IOC contributes a total of about $1.5 billion.

Japan Considers No Spectators for Olympics
A man wearing a protective mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks at pre-opened Main Press Center (MPC) for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Big Site Friday, July 2, 2021, in Tokyo. Organizers are still unsure if fans will be allowed at the Games. Eugene Hoshiko/Associated Press

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