Athletes arriving in Tokyo for next year’s Olympic Games, postponed from 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will be exempt from the 14-day isolation period Japan has imposed on anyone arriving from overseas to help stop the virus spreading.
Olympic organisers said on Thursday details still need to be worked out, but measures for athletes are likely to include COVID-19 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 is “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.
Muto 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.
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.”
Japan has held several recent test events, including a four-nation gymnastics meet last weekend, in which spectators have been admitted, but these were limited to residents of Japan.
International Olympic Committee head Thomas Bach is due in Japan for a three-day visit next week, at which Muto said he expected details of coronavirus counter-measures would be ironed out.
IOC’s Bach in Tokyo next week for talks with Games organisers
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach will be in Tokyo for three days next week to review preparations for the postponed 2020 Olympics and back organisers amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Bach told a news conference on Wednesday he would be in Tokyo between November 15-18 but did not provide details on possible meetings with government officials or Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
“It (the trip) is important because we are now coming to a crucial stage of putting this toolbox together with COVID-19 counter-measures to get the feeling what will be needed next year,” he said.
“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 to 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 provide confidence that some fans will be in the arenas.
Japan hosted a one-off gymnastics meeting on Sunday, seen as a crucial trial run for having international athletes travel to and compete in Japan during the Games.
“(The IOC is) more and more confident that we will have a reasonable number of spectators,” Bach 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,” Bach said. “This is the principle to which we remain committed; that these games will happen in a safe environment.”
CAS decision on Russia ban must be unambiguous: IOC
A verdict by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Russia’s appeal of a four-year ban over doping must be unambiguous so it is implemented ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, the International Olympic Committee said on Wednesday.
Russia was sanctioned last year after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) concluded that Moscow had planted fake evidence and deleted files linked to positive doping tests in laboratory data that could have helped identify drug cheats.
Russia has appealed to CAS which heard the case last week and a decision is expected by the end of the year.
“In the hearing our representatives have repeated the call of the IOC to have a clear and unambiguous decision which can be directly implemented and which does not need any interpretation and would not trigger new court cases and CAS procedures,” IOC President Thomas Bach said.
The case against Russia started with a 2015 report commissioned by WADA that found evidence of mass doping among track and field athletes.
“We have been informed the (CAS) panel indicated the decision can be expected before the end of the year,” Bach said in a virtual news conference at the end of the IOC Executive Board meeting.
“This was very good news for everybody because it would create some certainty seven months before the Tokyo Games (starting in July 2021).”
Should the ban be upheld, Russia’s teams and athletes would only compete at major sporting events, including the Olympics, as neutrals, without the country’s flag or national anthem.
Many of its athletes have missed the past two Olympics and the country was stripped of its flag at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games as punishment for state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Sochi Games.
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