Tokyo Olympics

Pandemic Olympics: Japan starts virus countermeasure talks

Agence France-Presse

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Pandemic Olympics: Japan starts virus countermeasure talks

epa08251597 Visitors wearing face masks walk past the Olympic Rings monument in front of the Japan Olympic Committee headquarters near the new National Stadium, venue of the Opening and Closing Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games, in Tokyo, Japan, 27 February 2020. Preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, scheduled to start on 24 July 2020, continue as planned despite the spreading Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak, organizers confirmed. EPA-EFE/KIMIMASA MAYAMA


With little sign that the coronavirus pandemic will be over, some experts continue to question whether holding the Tokyo Olympics is feasible at all

Japanese officials and Tokyo 2020 organizers began talks on the mammoth task of how to hold the postponed Olympics safely while the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage.

The Games were postponed earlier this year in a historic decision as the scale of the coronavirus crisis became clear.

But with less than a year until the new opening date on July 23, 2021, many questions remain – from how border controls will affect the movement of athletes and officials, to whether audiences will be able to pack into venues to watch events.

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said the committee “hopes to show results this year… and we will make efforts so that athletes in Japan and overseas will feel that next year’s Olympics is safe and secure because of our coronavirus measures.”

Muto said Friday’s discussions focused on “what kind of measures will be needed when athletes enter Japan from overseas,” but gave no further detail and declined to confirm reports the government may waive quarantine requirements for athletes if they agree to limit their movements inside Japan.

From October, virus measures at venues and the athletes’ village will be discussed, he said, with virus measures for stakeholders and spectators on the agenda from late October and into November.

Muto repeated that organizers hoped to avoid a Games without spectators – an option that has been mooted given Japan is still limiting audiences at sports events and its borders remain largely closed to foreign visitors.

Japan’s Yomiuri daily reported Thursday that the government was considering a process in which athletes would be tested multiple times, including before travel, on arrival and before entering the Olympic village.

They would be exempt from quarantine, to allow them to train, but would be restricted to travel between venues and hotels, the paper reported.

With little sign of the coronavirus disappearing soon, and a vaccine possibly months or even years away, some experts have questioned whether holding the Games is feasible at all.

Japanese Olympic Committee secretary general Tsuyoshi Fukui told the panel that athletes were counting on them to successfully hold the event.

“We want you to host the 2020 Games no matter what,” he said.

“Athletes are strongly hoping for it. We want to head to the Games by making every possible effort.” –

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