(19 November 2021) NHK trophy was held within a tight bubble due to the government's strict Covid response measures. All four categories had fewer than the normal number of entries due to skaters who had withdrawn prior to the start of the competition and could not be replaced in the time available.
Although new travel regulations came into effect November 8th, the process for foreigners to gain entry is still long and complicated. A Japanese business (JSF in this case) must first ask a government ministry for permission to invite a traveller. They must then send an invitation letter to the traveller who uses it (and other required documentation) to apply for a visa at a Japanese Consulate. Processing that application can take at least five days, and is some cases many more. Travellers must now quarantine for three days upon arrival in Japan and test on arrival and after the three days of quarantine. Their destination city must be their first port of entry into Japan.
In addition to preventing substitute skaters from reaching the competition, foreign media were unable to cover the competition on site. The process described will also be in place for the Grand Prix final in Osaka in December, and will also likely preclude on site coverage by foreign media.