The 2021 Tokyo Olympics have officially banned international spectators due to COVID-19 concerns.

On Saturday (March 20), President of the Tokyo Committee Seiko Hashimoto made the announcement during a press conference.

“The Tokyo 2020 Games will be completely different from the past, but the essence remains the same,” Hashimoto said in a press release. “Athletes will put everything on the line and inspire people with their outstanding performances.”

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The Olympic Committee seemingly plans to offer some sort of virtual experience to fans. "We are currently working on specific plans to share support remotely from around the world and help bring people together in ways suited to our current times," Hashimoto added.

According to The New York Times, 600,000 tickets to Olympic events have been sold to international fans in addition to the 30,000 tickets purchased for the Paralympic Games. International athletes competing in the games must be fully vaccinated prior to their arrival in Japan.

If you are an international traveler who purchased a ticket to the upcoming games, the organizing committee will refund your ticket price at the point of purchase. "Under these circumstances, ticketholders from overseas will soon be informed of the refund mechanism," the Olympic Committee said in a statement. It is unknown how tickets purchased from third party sellers will be refunded.

The big news follows Tokyo Olympic Games Creative Director Hiroshi Sasaki's resignation earlier this week. It was reported that he previously suggested to the Olympic planning staff during "brainstorming exchanges" that plus-sized Japanese comedian and fashion icon Naomi Watanabe could perform at the event as the “Olympig.”

Despite the recent scandal, the upcoming Olympics mark a historic moment for gender equality. The 2021 Tokyo Olympics will be the first gender-balanced games in history, with women making up nearly 49 percent of the competing athletes.

The Tokyo Olympics were originally scheduled for July 2020 but were delayed due to the pandemic.

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