General Secretary Seiko Hashimoto delivers an opening address while TokyoTokyo 2020 Organizing Committee president Thomas Bach listens at a five-party meeting of Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games with International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons, Tokyo Governor Tamayo Marukawa and Japanese Olympic Minister Guillermo Koike on March 20, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Through REUTERS Yoshikazu Tsuno Pool.
Olympic athletes will get daily tests for coronavirus during their time in Tokyo for the delayed 2020 Games, said the organisers on Wednesday, and be fitted with a series of tighter countermeasures to show the event was still on track.
Spectators from overseas have already been ruled out and a decision on whether to allow domestic spectators will be taken in June, a few weeks before the games begin on July 23.
Organizers said in a joint statement, which includes the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, the International Paralympic Committee the Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee, they would deploy all possible countermeasures and place the highest priority on safety.
With less than three months to go to the Games, and the Japanese public immersingly sceptical about their viability, the organisers were finalizing a second edition of the playbooks that will set the rules for staging the event.
Athletes and those whose contact will be tested every day, while all participants will be required to record two negative tests prior to arrival.
Participants will not be allowed to eat on public transport and will have to use special hygiene measures in certain places.
Parts of Japan including the capital were postponed at the weekend in a new state of emergency, and most of Japanese public think that the 2020 Games should be cancelled or postponed because of the pandemic.
The emergency, which is expected to last until May 11, requires restaurants and bars serving alcohol to end along with large stores, cinemas and other commercial facilities; asks firms to let staff work from home; and excludes spectators from major sports events.
Thomas Bach, head of the IOC, told the organisers that he fully understood the decision to declare an emergency.
He said by video link the playbooks would be strictly enforced and that the IOC was fully committed to the successful and safe delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
An earlier edition of the rules, which came out in February, banned singing and chanting at events and made participants wear masks at all times except when sleeping or eating outside.
Even with foreign spectators, more than 10,000 athletes, coaches and support staff are expected to arrive in Japan in July.
Although Japan has not suffered so badly from COVID-19 as many other countries, the infection rate has risen to levels never seen since January, and more and more are from new variants of the virus. On Wednesday 925 new cases were reported in Tokyo.
The games run from July 23 to Aug. 8.