By Jack Tarrant
TOKYO (Reuters) – Athletes will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test taken less than 72 hours before arriving in Japan for the Olympics and will be tested “every 96-120 hours” during the Games, according to a report published by organisers on Wednesday.
During talks between the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, the Japanese government and Tokyo Metropolitan Government, further guidelines for how the Japanese capital plans to host the rearranged Games next year were discussed.
Current visitors to Japan need to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival but athletes and other key stakeholders arriving for the Games will be exempt from those restrictions.
More than 15,000 athletes are expected in Tokyo for the Olympics, which begin on July 23, with the majority staying at the purpose-built Athletes’ Village.
The report detailed that a testing centre would be set up in the village for in-competition testing.
Organisers will also be encouraging athletes to spend less time in Tokyo than they usually would.
“We want to be considerate to the athletes, so the village doesn’t get too dense,” Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto told reporters after the talks.
“After the Games are finished, we want the athletes to go back home as early as possible.”
Reports in the Japanese media earlier on Wednesday claimed that “large-scale” numbers of overseas visitors will be allowed into Tokyo for the Games [M1L1N2II05Q].
However, the interim report stated that a final decision on the number of foreign spectators and other personnel from abroad wouldn’t be decided until the spring.
The prospect of the Games going ahead safely next year have been boosted by the development of vaccines against COVID-19, including the Pfizer shot approved by Britain on Wednesday [M1L8N2II10B].
A successful vaccine could make many of the COVID-19 countermeasures being discussed by Games’ organisers obsolete but Muto stressed they were going ahead with or without the vaccine.
“Regarding the vaccine, just recently we have started to see positive news but at the moment it is not available yet,” he said.
“What might happen, what could happen, it is unclear… so we are working under the assumption that the vaccine isn’t available.”
(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Christian Radnedge)