A Tokyo 2020 official broke down in tears at a press conference today (Friday) as he apologised to ticket-holders who will be barred from attending Olympic Games events due to a state of emergency in the Japanese capital.

With COVID-19 cases rising in Tokyo, it was announced after a meeting yesterday between the Games’ organising committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Government of Japan, the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee that no spectators will be permitted in the city for the Olympics, which will run from July 23 to August 8.

An emotional Suzuki Hidenori, deputy executive director of marketing and senior director of ticketing for Tokyo 2020, said today: “We have done all we can to meet the expectations of those who had bought the tickets, and I feel a deep sense of pain.”

The measure to ban spectators is set to have a savage financial impact on the Games and the host city, which will miss out on hundreds of millions of dollars of spending by visitors, as well as less tangible destination branding.

The Tokyo 2020 organising committee had projected some 90 billion yen (£595m/€692m/$819m) in ticketing revenue from the Games.

A decision on spectators at the Paralympics, due to run from August 24 to September 5, is likely in early August, with Tokyo’s state of emergency set to run from July 12 to August 22.

Venues in the neighbouring prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama will also be without fans during the Olympics, and the organising committee clarified earlier today that spectators should not gather to watch outdoor events such as the triathlon or road cycling, as well as the indoor events.

The possibility of the Games taking place behind closed doors was reported exclusively by TheTicketingBusiness last month.

Image: Scott Kouchi/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size