TOKYO – Tokyo Olympics organizers and the IOC will unveil new plans this week to explain how 15,400 Olympic and Paralympic athletes can compete in Japan if the Games open in three months amid a pandemic.
The launch of the second edition of the so-called “Playbooks” – an IOC guide explaining how the games can be played – comes as Tokyo, Osaka and several other areas enter a third state of emergency due to the rise in coronavirus cases were.
Japan, which has attributed about 10,000 deaths to COVID-19, has also been slow with local vaccinations, with about 1% receiving shots to date.
Organizers are expected to announce daily tests for athletes. They are also expected to drop a 14-day quarantine request so that the athletes can train when they arrive. The athletes must be in a “bubble” made up of the Olympic Village in Tokyo Bay, plus venues and training areas.
Japan’s Kyodo News, quoting unnamed sources, said athletes and staff must be tested twice within 96 hours before leaving home. They are also tested upon arrival in Japan.
The playbook for athletes is due to be updated on Wednesday. Playbooks for media and others will be released on Friday. A final edition of all playbooks will be released in June.
Resistance to the Olympic Games in Japan is still high. In recent polls, 70-80% were against it. Fans from abroad have already been banned, and the organizers have postponed the decision to have fans at Olympic venues at all until the end of June.
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Taro Kono, the minister responsible for vaccination in Japan, suggested earlier this month that empty venues were a likely option.
IOC President Thomas Bach said last week his plans to meet the torch relay in Hiroshima from May 17-18 had not yet been confirmed. Bach’s arrival would come just days after the last state of emergency ended on May 11th.
Opposition lawmakers in Japan’s national legislature have proposed that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga schedule a state of emergency to house Bach.
The government and the International Olympic Committee have stated that the precautionary measures are specific to Japan’s “Golden Week,” which begins on Thursday.
The torch relay, which began on March 25 in Fukushima, northeastern Japan, was rerouted several times this month and had to run in an empty city park in Osaka. It was also diverted to Matsuyama City Ehime Prefecture.
It will be banned altogether on Okinawa Island Miyakojima this weekend. The small island has only one hospital. The relay will run through other locations on Okinawa.
The heavily sponsored season is a caravan of more than a dozen cars and other vehicles adorned with advertisements from major sponsors such as Coca-Cola and Toyota. Torchbearers – there are 10,000 in total – usually bring up the rear with booming music and jokes from DJs.
The season is scheduled to end on July 23 at the National Stadium for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games.