With many in Japan jittery over holding the world’s largest sports event in Tokyo amid a pandemic, organizers released new guidelines for those taking part.
By Motoko Rich
TOKYO — Athletes will be tested daily, but they will not need to quarantine. Visitors will be asked to stay off public transit. And members of the news media, along with other officials, will be urged to eat takeout meals alone.
Hoping to assuage a Japanese public jittery about the possibility that the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics could turn into a coronavirus superspreader event, organizers of the Games released a second round of so-called playbooks on Wednesday, with updated protocols for those taking part in the world’s largest sporting event this July.
Even without overseas spectators, whom organizers barred from the Games last month, tens of thousands of people will enter Japan this summer after nearly a year in which the country’s borders have been mostly closed to nonresidents. In several public polls in Japan, a majority said they would prefer the Olympics be postponed again or canceled altogether, and some public health experts have questioned whether the Games are safe to stage under current pandemic conditions.
The new rules were unveiled after a meeting between leaders of the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, the Tokyo organizers, Tokyo’s metropolitan government and the government of Japan. Thomas Bach, the I.O.C. president, said the revised protocols were “based on the best scientific and medical expertise” and the experience of hundreds of sports events over the last year, involving thousands of athletes.
Together with the Tokyo organizing committee, Mr. Bach said, the I.O.C. was ready “to take all the necessary measures to minimize risk to make the Japanese people feel safe,” including a commitment to “strictly enforce the compliance with these playbooks.”
“If the situation should require it,” Mr. Bach added, “we are also ready to take even stricter measures together.”
The organizers did not answer the question that many in Japan want addressed: Will domestic spectators will be allowed into Olympic stadiums and arenas? They deferred a decision on that until June.
“As we look into the evolving situation with the domestic infections status involving new strains, we have agreed that a decision regarding spectator capacity at the Olympic and Paralympic venues will be made in June,” the organizers said in a statement.
Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the Tokyo organizing committee, said organizers were prepared “to have the Games with no spectators,” but said, “On the other hand, we have hope that we want as many spectators as possible to see the Games if the situation so allows.”
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