Olympic test events from March, some with local fans

Olympic test events from March, some with local fans

TOKYO • Tokyo Olympics test events will resume in March and a decision on fan attendance will come in the spring, an official said yesterday, as preparations continued for the postponed Games despite ongoing coronavirus fears.

The comments from Yasuo Mori, deputy executive director of the Games Operations Bureau, come after International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach last week said he was “very confident” the Games will have fans.

The first event will be the Fina artistic swimming Olympic qualifying tournament from March 4-7 at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

The Fina Diving World Cup, the Gymnastics World Cup, the International Volleyball Games and the artistic qualifying event, organised by international federations and the Japanese national federations, will feature “overseas athletes” but there will be no foreign spectators, said Mori.

Local fans will be allowed at some of the test events, which will also be used to assess Covid-19 safety measures and contingency plans.

Most of the test events, which function as dress rehearsals for each sport, had already taken place before the Games were delayed in March. But 18 remain to be held.

The Tokyo Olympics were postponed for a year over the coronavirus, becoming the first to be rescheduled in peace time. The 2020 Games will now start on July 23 next year.

According to Kyodo News, athletes at the Games will have to wear masks at all times and practise social distancing. The only exceptions are during competition and meal times.

Breakfast at the Athletes’ Village will be limited to 30 minutes while the time taken for lunch and dinner can go up to an hour. To hasten proceedings, athletes will receive the menus on their mobile phones.

This month, Tokyo successfully staged a four-nation gymnastics competition in front of a socially distanced crowd who were told not to shout or cheer.

Japan has seen a relatively small coronavirus outbreak overall, with just over 2,000 deaths and 137,000 confirmed cases.

But it is now battling a third wave of the pandemic, reporting record numbers of daily infections nationwide in recent days.