The Tokyo Olympics will go ahead without international visitors despite selling around one million tickets overseas.
Organisers say they will refund all tickets sold overseas, but there would be no reimbursement of costs incurred from flights or accommodation.
The decision comes as a huge blow as Japan looks to recoup some of the US$15 billion it has spent to hold the Games.
“Based on the present situation of the pandemic, it is highly unlikely that entry into Japan will be guaranteed this summer for people from overseas,” the organisers said in a statement.
“In order to give clarity to ticket holders living overseas and to enable them to adjust their travel plans at this stage, the parties on the Japanese side have come to the conclusion that they will not be able to enter into Japan at the time of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“This conclusion will further contribute to ensure safe and secure games for all participants and the Japanese public.”
Head of the Tokyo Organising Committee Seiko Hashimoto said it was “an unavoidable decision” as the country battles a third Covid wave.
“But given the current stance of COVID-19 and the situation we are seeing in Tokyo, and in order to make sure we do not cause any inconvenience to the medical situation, we had to make the decision and we have to ensure the safe and secure environment for all of the participants,” she said.