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Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Japan faces specter of fanless Olympics as COVID threat rises

$824m in ticket revenue will evaporate; sponsors will lose marketing opportunities

A mask-clad staffer prepares for a rugby test event inside of an empty Tokyo Stadium in April.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- The prospect of Olympians competing in an empty stadium this summer is now a distinct possibility as Japan extends its third state of emergency and makes little progress on vaccination.

An Olympics without spectators is a scenario Japan desperately wants to avoid. For starters, 90 billion yen ($824 million) in ticket revenue will go up in smoke, and public interest will plunge, disappointing sponsor companies. A final decision is expected in June.

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