Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics set to be staged without overseas spectators

Report in Japan says that public concern over the coronavirus pandemic has forced government's hand

Japan is set to stage this summer's Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics without overseas spectators due to public concern over the coronavirus pandemic.

The Kyodo News agency said the government had decided that allowing fans from abroad would not be possible given the ongoing issue of more contagious variants being detected in countries across the world.

The opening ceremony will also be held without spectators, Kyodo said.

"The organising committee has decided it is essential to hold the ceremony in the north-eastern prefecture of Fukushima behind closed doors, only permitting participants and invitees to take part in the event, to avoid large crowds forming amid the pandemic," Kyodo said, quoting officials with knowledge of the matter.

The Games, which had to be postponed last year due to Covid-19, are currently set to begin on July 23.

Most Japanese people do not want international spectators to attend the Games amid fears that a large influx of visitors could spark a resurgence of infections, a Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper poll showed.

The survey showed 77 per cent of respondents were against allowing foreign fans to attend, versus 18 per cent in favour.

Earlier on Tuesday, International Gymnastics Federation announced it had cancelled the Artistic All-Around World Cup in Tokyo, which was also to be a test event for the Summer Games.

The event, which had been scheduled for May 4, was meant to conclude this year's all-around series.

However, the cancellation of two earlier events led to the scrapping of the series as qualifiers.