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IOC chief’s delayed Japan trip to take place ahead of Olympics opening

Tokyo, May 20 (EFE).- The president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) plans to finally land in Japan on July 12, less than two weeks before the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, the IOC announced overnight as it sought to reassure the event will be held safely.

Thomas Bach was scheduled to visit the country in mid-May but his trip was postponed after the declaration of a state of emergency in the main Japanese regions due to a fourth wave of Covid-19.

His visit will be part of “coordination operations” on the ground for the Games, which are scheduled to kick off on July 23, IOC Vice President John Coates said in a letter to Olympic officials from Lausanne on Wednesday.

Coates also plans to travel to Tokyo on June 15 to finalize the details of the sporting event.

“These have been difficult times for all of us since the start of the pandemic, and this summer the eyes of the world will be on us and on Japan,” Coates wrote.

“We have an obligation, as the Olympic Movement, to all of those involved to do our utmost to make these Games safe and secure, so that these Olympic and Paralympic Games can indeed be the light at the end of the tunnel,” he added.

Coates’ letter to Olympic officials and athletes coincided with the start of the final meeting of the IOC Coordination Commission with the Tokyo Olympic organizers. The series of virtual meetings will run until Friday.

At the start of the meeting, Bach said that over 80 percent of athletes and committee members who will stay at this year’s Olympic Village will arrive in Japan vaccinated and offered to provide medical personnel to accompany the national committees to help in the assistance and implementation of anti-Covid measures in the Village and at the competition venues.

Bach appeared to seek to dispel concerns in Japan that the Games would worsen the Covid-19 epidemic in the country.

The majority of Japanese citizens oppose hosting the event this year, according to polls, while the country’s main medical union has launched a petition calling for the Olympics to be canceled.

The state of emergency declared in Tokyo and the rest of the major Japanese regions will in principle be in place until the end of the month and comes amid a record number of severe Covid-19 cases in the country and a slow vaccination rollout. EFE

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