Quick exit for Tokyo Games

Quick exit for Tokyo Games

TOKYO • Athletes will need to provide a negative Covid-19 test taken less than 72 hours before arriving in Japan for the Tokyo Olympics and will be tested “every 96-120 hours” during the Games, according to a report published by organisers yesterday.

During talks between the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, the Japanese government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, guidelines for how the Japanese capital plans to host the rearranged Games were discussed.

Current visitors to Japan need to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival but athletes and other key stakeholders arriving for the Games will be exempt from those restrictions.

More than 15,000 athletes are expected to be in Tokyo for the Olympics, which begin on July 23 and end on Aug 8, with the majority staying at the Athletes’ Village.

The 54-page report detailed that a testing centre will be set up in the village for in-competition testing.

Last month, senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) official John Coates said the number of athletes at the Games would not be reduced and it was down to organisers to make them feel safe. Athletes will also be encouraged to spend less time in Tokyo.

“We want to be considerate to the athletes, so the village doesn’t get too dense,” Tokyo 2020 chief executive officer Toshiro Muto told reporters after the talks.

“After the Games are finished, we want the athletes to go back home as early as possible.”

Reports in the Japanese media earlier yesterday claimed that “large-scale” numbers of overseas visitors will be allowed into Tokyo for the Games.

However, the interim report stated that a final decision on the number of foreign spectators and other personnel from abroad would not be decided until the spring.

The Nikkei business daily reported that nearly 1 million tickets have been sold overseas, compared with 4.5 million in Japan.

The prospect of the Games going ahead safely has been boosted by the development of vaccines, including the Pfizer shot approved by Britain yesterday.

A successful vaccine could make many of the Covid-19 countermeasures being discussed by Games organisers obsolete but Muto stressed they were going ahead with or without the vaccine.

“Regarding the vaccine, just recently we have started to see positive news but at the moment it is not available yet,” he said.

“What might happen, what could happen, it is unclear… so we are working under the assumption that the vaccine isn’t available.”

It was also reported that Japan will give free vaccines to all of its residents under a bill passed yesterday. The bill, which says the government will cover all vaccine costs for Japan’s 126 million residents, was approved by the upper house of parliament, having cleared the powerful lower house.

Japan has avoided the high rates of infection and deaths seen in Europe and the United States but with the cold season approaching, the country has posted record numbers of daily cases in recent weeks.

Separately, Thomas Bach will stand unopposed to serve a second term as IOC president, the body said on Tuesday.

The 66-year-old German lawyer is set to be confirmed for a second and final four-year term at an IOC session in March in Athens.

He was initially elected for an eight-year term as Olympic chief in September 2013. If re-elected, his term will end in 2025, a year after the Paris Olympics.