Tokyo athletes to skip isolation

TOKYO • Athletes arriving in Tokyo for next year’s Olympic Games, postponed from 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, will be exempt from the 14-day isolation period Japan has imposed on anyone arriving from overseas to help stop the virus spreading.

Tokyo 2020 organisers said yesterday details still need to be worked out, but measures for athletes are likely to include coronavirus testing within 72 hours before arriving in Japan.

But they warned decisions on spectators from overseas have yet to be made, saying a 14-day quarantine was “impossible”.

“Athletes, coaches and Games officials that are eligible for the Tokyo Games will be allowed to enter the country, provided significant measures are made before they get to Japan,” Tokyo 2020 chief executive officer Toshiro Muto told a news conference.

He was speaking after a meeting between officials from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the national government and Tokyo 2020 organisers on infection prevention procedures during the Games, which will be held from July 23 to Aug 8.

He said a decision on foreign spectators would be made next year, depending on pandemic developments.

“By next spring, we will be coming up with a plan for spectators, including non-Japanese spectators,” he said. “It is impossible to set a 14-day quarantine period for foreign spectators, so tests before and upon arrival are needed.”

If fans are allowed into the venues, they may be requested not to shout or chant to reduce the risk of airborne droplets spreading the virus, Muto added, although no decision has been made yet.

The no-scream guideline has been in place for months at Japan’s professional football and baseball stadiums.

Japan has held several recent test events, including a four-nation gymnastics meet last weekend, in which 2,000 socially distanced spectators were admitted, but these were limited to residents of Japan.

Muto said he expected details of coronavirus countermeasures to be ironed out during a four-day visit to Japan by International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach next week.

GETTING EXEMPTION

It is impossible to set a 14-day quarantine period for foreign spectators, so tests before and upon arrival are needed.

TOSHIRO MUTO, Tokyo 2020 CEO, on welcoming overseas visitors.

IN GOOD HANDS

Of course, my strong desire to compete is tempered with concerns over the virus. It is a fine line, but we trust that the measures taken will be sufficient for the safe and successful hosting of the Olympics.

FENG TIANWEI, Singapore’s world No. 9 paddler, on her fourth Olympics.

WELCOME NEWS

Not serving a 14-day quarantine will mean that there’ll be no major disruption to training. So that’ll be one less thing to worry about leading up to the Games.

JONATHAN CHAN, first Singaporean diver to qualify for the Olympics.

“It (the trip) is important because we are now coming to a crucial stage of putting this toolbox together with Covid-19 countermeasures to get the feeling what will be needed next year,” Bach told a news conference on Wednesday, ahead of his Nov 15-18 visit.

“I hope after this visit we can give even more confidence to all the participants of the Games about the safe environment they will see in about nine months from now.”

The IOC and Japanese organisers took the unprecedented decision in March to delay the Games by a year to 2021 due to the pandemic, a costly postponement that still has many moving parts given the spread of the virus.

Bach said it was still too early to say whether spectators or even international visitors would be part of the Olympics in July and August but he believes recent events held in Japan such as the gymnastics meet provide confidence that some fans will be in the arenas.

“(The IOC is) more and more confident that we will have a reasonable number of spectators,” he said.

“How many and under which conditions, again, depends very much on the future developments.

“The message I want to deliver in Tokyo is that we are fully committed to the safe organisation of the Games.

“This is the principle to which we remain committed; that these Games will happen in a safe environment.”

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE