World Athletics President Sebastian Coe is hopeful of seeing international fans at Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has expressed his desire to see overseas fans permitted at this year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Coe believes the presence of spectators is "not a deal-breaker" for athletes but thinks "everyone would prefer" to have fans at venues in the Japanese capital.

A decision on whether international spectators will be allowed to travel to the Games is expected to be made by March 25.

Once that has been announced, the capacity of each venue is then due to be determined by the end of April.

There are fears that fans entering Japan from around the world could cause an increase in COVID-19 cases.

But Coe, head of the London 2012 Organising Committee, believes there is still time to put measures in place to overcome those challenges presented by coronavirus which continues to spread worldwide.

"I would love to see people from overseas in the stadiums safely and securely and following all the COVID protocols," said Coe.

"It’s not a deal-breaker for the athletes but I think everyone would prefer to have stadiums with people ideally reflecting the planet and the Olympic Movement we live in.

"We also understand, as I did in London, that we deliver a Games for global communities.

"It is very different from any other sporting event.

"I am sure that when the delivery partners that will be making that judgement look and recognise the scope and scale of the Games, they will recognise also that there are some challenges but those challenges really, if possible, can be overcome."

Sebastian Coe, head of the London 2012 Organising Committee, reckons
Sebastian Coe, head of the London 2012 Organising Committee, reckons "everyone would prefer" to have fans at Tokyo 2020 venues ©Getty Images

Reports in Japan have suggested international spectators will likely be prevented from attending the Games.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has also suggested that ensuring "safe, secure and fair competition" would take priority over other aspects of the Games.

He has also pledged to ensure the safety of the Japanese population during Tokyo 2020.

Around 4.48 million tickets were sold for the Olympics, while 970,000 were purchased for the Paralympics.

Tokyo 2020 offered a refund window for domestic ticketholders last year.

Ticket sales for the Games are suspended, with uncertainty over whether domestic and international fans will be able to attend.

Speaking last week, John Coates, the IOC Coordination Commission chair for Tokyo 2020, said organisers were looking at the consequences of banning international spectators.

"We are looking at the refund of tickets, that is a given," Coates said.

"But we are looking at the other implications of accommodation, we are looking at implications for National Olympic Committees who have sponsors who might have bought tickets.

"The same with International Federations.

"This will be an ongoing and very urgent discussion.

"We will have to try and address all these consequences in advance over the next week, but we are very mindful of the uncertainty."