Japan has decided to stage this summer's Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics without overseas spectators due to public concern about COVID-19, Kyodo news agency said on Wednesday (NZ time), citing officials with knowledge of the matter.
The Tokyo 2020 games organising committee said in response that a decision would be made by the end of March.
The Olympics, postponed by a year because of the pandemic, are scheduled for July 23 to August 8 and the Paralympics from August 24 to September 5.
Kyodo said the government had concluded that welcoming fans from abroad would not be possible given public concern about the coronavirus and the detection of more contagious variants in many countries, Kyodo cited the officials as saying.
The opening ceremony of the torch relay would also be held without any spectators, Kyodo said.
"The organising committee has decided it is essential to hold the ceremony in the northeastern 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 the officials.
Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto has said she wants a decision on whether to let in overseas spectators before the start of the torch relay on March 25.
"Five parties, the IOC, the IPC (International Paralympic Committee), Tokyo 2020, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the national government, came together for a meeting via online just last week," the organising committee said in response to the Kyodo report.
"The decision regarding allowing spectators from overseas to attend the Tokyo 2020 Games will be made by the end of March based on factors including the state of infections in Japan and other countries, possible epidemic-prevention measures, and expert scientific advice will be considered."