Tokyo Olympics CEO sug­gests re­laxed en­try rules for ath­letes

Malta Independent - - Sport -

Tokyo Olympics of­fi­cials are propos­ing that the gov­ern­ment re­lax im­mi­gra­tion reg­u­la­tions to al­low ath­letes to en­ter the coun­try be­fore next year's post­poned games and train dur­ing a 14-day quar­an­tine pe­riod, Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee said on Wed­nes­day.

"We have to con­sider the unique­ness of the ath­letes and also their ac­tiv­i­ties," Muto said, speak­ing in Ja­panese fol­low­ing a meet­ing of a task force con­sid­er­ing coun­ter­mea­sures against the COVID-19 pan­demic.

The In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee, Tokyo city and na­tional gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, and mem­bers of the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee are hold­ing vir­tual meet­ings on Thurs­day and Fri­day fo­cused on find­ing ways to hold the de­layed Olympics dur­ing a pan­demic.

The or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee and the IOC have said for months they are con­sid­er­ing many sce­nar­ios for how the games can open on July 23, 2021, but have of­fered nothing spe­cific.

IOC Pres­i­dent Thomas Bach, who will ad­dress the on­line meet­ings on Thurs­day, has said a vac­cine and rapid test­ing would help, but added there is no "sil­ver bul­let" that will al­low the Olympics to au­to­mat­i­cally hap­pen.

Bach and new Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Yoshi­hide Suga spoke for 15 min­utes on Wed­nes­day, the for­eign min­istry said. They talked about pulling off the games, and Bach said he hoped to soon visit Japan.

Muto summed up deal­ing with so many dis­parate and of­ten com­pet­ing in­ter­ests rep­re­sent­ing 15,400 Olympic and Paralympic ath­letes, of­fi­cials, coaches, spon­sors — not to men­tion the ques­tion of Ja­panese and for­eign fans.

"How we are go­ing to de­cide is some­thing we have to de­cide," Muto said. "But we haven't dis­cussed by when we have to de­cide."

Muto said a re­port would be forth­com­ing in De­cem­ber, af­ter talks with the IOC, na­tional Olympic com­mit­tees, sports fed­er­a­tions and myr­iad other par­ties in­clud­ing broad­cast­ers, ath­letes, spon­sors and med­i­cal of­fi­cials.

He ac­knowl­edged that ath­letes might have to use pub­lic trans­porta­tion in Japan, sug­gest­ing a com­plete "bub­ble" would be im­pos­si­ble.

And he raised the is­sue of how the pan­demic is at very dif­fer­ent stages in many coun­tries — as is test­ing. Ath­letes would be ex­pected to be tested be­fore they leave home, and then be tested again in Japan.

"De­pend­ing on the coun­try, the re­li­a­bil­ity of the test­ing is still an is­sue," he said. "The ac­cu­racy of the tests may not be uni­form."

Left un­said so far is an of­fi­cial es­ti­mate of what the one-year de­lay will cost. Most es­ti­mates sug­gest sev­eral bil­lion dol­lars, most of which falls to Ja­panese tax­pay­ers.

The two-day meet­ings come the same week that the Ja­panese me­dia re­ported again on the bribery scan­dal tied to the Tokyo Olympics. It forced the res­ig­na­tion last year of Ja­panese Olympic Com­mit­tee Pres­i­dent Tsunekazu Takeda.

The Univer­sity of Ox­ford also re­leased a study last week say­ing that Tokyo is the most ex­pen­sive Sum­mer Olympics on record.

Japan has recorded about 1,500 deaths from COVID-19, much lower per capita than the United States, Brazil, or In­dia.

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