IOC president arrives in Japan ahead of Olympics amid Covid-19 case surge

Tokyo, Jul 8 (EFE).- The president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) arrived in Japan on Thursday, 15 days before the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic Games amid a surge in Covid-19 cases.

Thomas Bach landed at Tokyo’s Haneda airport just hours before the Japanese government is tipped to declare a fourth state of emergency in the capital that could impact the presence of spectators at the sporting event.

According to the Japanese organizing committee, Bach will undergo a three-day quarantine in his hotel and later visit the Olympic Village and hold meetings with the committee, both in person and online.

The official will also plan to visit the city of Hiroshima on July 16 coinciding with the UN’s adoption of the Olympic truce.

The Japanese government is planning to declare a state of emergency next week that will last well into August due to an increase in daily new Covid-19 infections in Tokyo, according to local media reports citing government leaks.

After banning the arrival of overseas spectators in March and despite the fact that they have never ruled out a closed door event depending on the situation of the pandemic, the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics announced in June that they planned to allow the entry of a maximum of 10,000 spectators or half of each venue’s capacity.

The authorities are now considering reducing the figure to 5,000 or even zero, or bar fans from sessions scheduled to begin after 9 pm, including the opening and closing ceremonies, according to media leaks.

These expected changes come amid a recent rise in coronavirus cases in the Japanese capital, which recorded 920 new infections on Wednesday, the highest since mid-May, and warnings by health experts about the danger of going ahead with the Games with more contagious strains spiraling out of control.

Bach is expected to participate in a meeting this week with the organizing committee and others involved in the preparation of the event to discuss the matter and take a decision on it. EFE


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