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Except this year, athlete families won't be permitted to attend the games, due to the risk of spectators spreading COVID-19.
Why won't parents and families be allowed to attend?
The Olympics are going to be different this time around since they were postponed a year due to a pandemic. Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic is still very much happening, and that means new safety regulations for athletic competition.
Because every country has a different rate of vaccination and unique variants, there is a very real possibility the Olympics could become a superspreader event.
In March, organizers released a statement banning all "overseas spectators" for the Olympic and Paralympic Games due to the pandemic. "Olympic and Paralympic tickets purchased by overseas residents from the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee will be refunded."
However, Japanese spectators will be permitted to attend, per the New York Times, as long as venues do not exceed 50% capacity. As of July 15th, only 20% of Japan's population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to Our World in Data, so the move to bar families will also protect the Japanese population from an outbreak.
Fans are pretty bummed, tbh.
Some fans have taken to Twitter to sound off about the no-families rule.
"This really sucks for parents and family. Not just financially but emotionally Due to coronavirus restrictions and to help prevent the spread of the virus, no family members or fans are allowed to attend the Olympic competitions in Tokyo," one person tweeted.
Another said: "I cannot believe they aren’t allowing the Olympic athletes who are minors have a parent with them. Am I missing something? Wth?? Totally get the COVID safety precautions, but there are other safety issues to be concerned with as well."
Athletes aren't thrilled.
For many athletes, whose parents and families have supported their Olympic dreams since they were children, it's going to be tough to compete without them. Soccer player Becky Sauerbrunn calls his support team "the traveling circus," per USA Today.
"It’s gonna suck not having friends and family there, but [I] totally understand," beach volleyball star April Ross told USA Today. "They can have parties and watch at home. So I’m keeping an open mind about it. Health is number one, obviously. Safety is number one."
"I think our family and friends are probably more bummed," soccer player Crystal Dunn said. "We love them. We'll feel their support for sure."
However, babies of breastfeeding athletes will be permitted to attend.
"Given that the Tokyo 2020 Games will take place during a pandemic, overall we must unfortunately decline to permit athletes' family members or other companions to accompany them to the Games," Tokyo 2020 organizers told Reuters at the end of June.
"However, after careful consideration of the unique situation facing athletes with nursing children, we are pleased to confirm that, when necessary, nursing children will be able to accompany athletes to Japan," they added.
The change comes after U.S. marathoner Aliphine Tuliamuk petitioned organizers to permit her 4-month-old daughter, Zoe, to join her in Japan. Soccer player Alex Morgan also hopes to bring her daughter Charlie.
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