Of all the major sporting events to fall victim to the impact of COVID 19 in 2020, the absence of the Tokyo Olympics was felt by sports fans the world over.
Japan have been world-leading in their approach to combat the spread of the virus and as attention turns towards the logistics of Tokyo 2021, it's now official—only domestic fans will be able to attend the games.
This comes as a huge blow to the thousands of fans that travel the world every 4 years to watch the greatest sporting spectacle on earth and for the Japanese economy, that would have been set to boom as host of the Olympics Games.
The news that international fans cannot attend the Tokyo Olympics is not have been a huge surprise to many in sport, but adds to the ever-growing sense of frustration for sports fans around the world and not being able to watch live action.
Over the past 12 months, sporting events the world over have predominantly been played out behind closed doors and whilst the quality of the action has remained, the atmosphere and sense of occasion at each sporting event has been somewhat lost.
Japan have been one of the most forward-thinking countries in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and they look to have again erred on the side of caution.
International transit in and out of the country is currently limited and whilst they have the infrastructure in place to accommodate fans from all four corners of the globe, adding appropriate COVID-19 testing measures to the influx of people visiting the country looks to be too big a task at this late stage in proceedings.
Whilst the international flavour in the stands could be lost somewhat, Japanese sports fans have a super reputation the world over for adding to the atmosphere and occasion at sporting events.
They won the hearts of the footballing fraternity at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia by passionately following their team through to the last 8, where they suffered a heart-braking defeat to Belgium. In addition, the 2019 Rugby World Cup was held in Japan where the hosts upset some of the biggest sides in the game, with their entertaining brand of rugby and the support the home side received was spine-tingling.
As the world’s ultimate international sporting event, not having fans from all over the world will paint a very different picture of the Tokyo Olympics but the Japanese fans will undoubtedly do all they can to put on an unforgettable show.