March 20 (UPI) -- Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee said Saturday it won't allow overseas ticket holders entry into the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The committee already postponed the Olympics a year to July 23 because of the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Tokyo and Japanese governments and the Organizing Committee Tokyo 2020 informed the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee during a virtual meeting of its conclusion to not allow overseas spectators.
The organizing committee blamed the ongoing difficulties to stop the spread of COVID-19 around the globe and, in particular, the emergence of variant strains of the virus. Global travel restrictions also factored into the decision.
The IOC and IPC said they agreed with the conclusion.
"We share the disappointment of all enthusiastic Olympic fans from around the world, and of course the families and friends of the athletes, who were planning to come to the Games," IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement. "For this I am truly sorry. We know that this is a great sacrifice for everybody. We have said from the very beginning of this pandemic that it will require sacrifices.
"But we have also said that the first principle is safety. Every decision has to respect the principle of safety first. I know that our Japanese partners and friends did not reach this conclusion lightly. "
Ticket holders from overseas will receive a refund and will be informed of the refund mechanism, according to the organizing committee.
The Olympic Games will take place from July 23 to Aug. 24 and the Paralympic Games will take place from Aug. 24 through Sept. 5.