Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshirō Mutō has hinted the Japanese Government may relax entry restrictions to allow athletes to train during a 14-day quarantine period prior to next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Mutō said it was important to “consider the uniqueness of the athletes” and “their activities” after a meeting to consider measures to combat COVID-19.
According to a draft plan of countermeasures, foreign athletes would be tested for COVID-19 before they leave and upon arrival in Japan.
But Mutō reportedly raised the issue of how the pandemic and the level of testing is at very different stages in many countries.
“Depending on the country, the reliability of the testing is still an issue,” said Muto.
“The accuracy of the tests may not be uniform.”
The frequency of tests is believed to be among a number of coronavirus measures that are still under discussion.
Mutō is hoping the discussions with the IOC and various International Federations will be finalised by December.
A coronavirus countermeasures task force, formed of officials from the Japanese Government, Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, are also assessing possible scenarios and measures that could allow the Games to run as expected.
As well as the quarantine exemption for athletes, they may also have to detail their base camp locations, training sites and host towns, and organisers will discuss with the IOC the possibility of athletes limiting their movement in Japan to these locations.
It is also understood that new Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga spoke to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach by phone today and discussed about holding a successful Games which is scheduled to take place from July 23 to August 8.
Bach is expected to address an online Coordination Commission meeting tomorrow as the IOC, Tokyo city, Government officials and members of the Organising Committee discuss ways to stage the Games during the pandemic.
Earlier this week, Bach wrote a letter to the Olympic Movement where he stated his “confidence in our preparations” for Tokyo 2020.
Bach also mentioned “encouraging signals” coming from scientists which suggest a vaccine for COVID-19 could be developed as early as the end of the year.
“On the one hand, these recent weeks have shown that we can organise big sports events in a safe way even without a vaccine,” Bach wrote.
“On the other hand, we have to realise that even testing methods and vaccines are not the ‘silver bullet’ that will solve all our problems.”
In a report by Japanese news agency Kyodo News, Government sources claim Japan is planning to ease travel restrictions for foreign travellers from next month.
It is understood the Government is considering allowing about 1,000 foreigners to enter the country a day for stays of three months or longer, with increased testing capacity at airports to accommodate them.
Japan has seen more than 80,000 COVID-19 infections with a death toll of over 1,500 and has an entry ban for 159 countries and regions.