Little fanfare as Tokyo enters Olympic countdown

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A Tokyo 2020 Olympics Video games banner is displayed on the wall of the Tokyo Metropolitan Authorities constructing in Tokyo on April 13, 2021. (AFP)

TOKYO, Japan  – Tokyo entered the ultimate Olympic countdown on Friday, however there was little fanfare with only one week till the opening ceremony, as virus infections surge within the Japanese capital.

Organisers have been compelled to bar spectators from all occasions within the metropolis and most venues internet hosting competitions elsewhere within the nation.

And Olympic individuals from athletes to media face a spread of anti-virus measures together with common testing and limits on their motion.

However with Tokyo recording its highest case numbers since a winter wave in January, scrutiny of virus dangers across the Video games is intense.

Worldwide Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach insisted Thursday that anti-virus guidelines “are working”.

Amongst 1000’s of arrivals to Japan since July 1, solely a handful of optimistic instances have been reported.

Tokyo 2020 on Thursday mentioned an athlete and 5 workers members, largely contractors, had examined optimistic. One other 4 optimistic checks had been reported amongst Olympic workers on Friday.

Different instances have been discovered amongst delegations arriving early for coaching camps, or in a single case amongst workers at a lodge internet hosting Brazilian athletes.

However Bach mentioned a go to to the Olympic Village had satisfied him that anti-virus guidelines had been “in place, and they’re working, and they’re enforced”.

“We may see and persuade ourselves that every one the delegations are following the principles and are supporting the principles, as a result of they know it’s in their very own curiosity to be secure,” he mentioned at a gathering with Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike.

The capital is at present underneath a virus state of emergency, though the measures are considerably much less strict than a lockdown and largely restrict alcohol gross sales and eating places’ opening hours.

The measures will proceed all through the Olympics, and could possibly be expanded to different areas the place instances are surging.

Japan has seen a smaller outbreak than many international locations, with fewer than 15,000 deaths, regardless of avoiding harsh lockdowns.

However the nation’s vaccination roll-out has been comparatively gradual, with round 20 p.c of the inhabitants to date totally vaccinated.

‘Olympic Video games, Covid version’

Dozens of groups are already in Japan — some at coaching camps dotted across the nation, and others within the Olympic Village, the place nationwide flags have been held on the buildings housing delegations.

British weightlifter Sarah Davies was among the many athletes posting on social media about life on the pandemic Olympics.

“Now we have what we name the jail yard,” she mentioned in a video posted on her Instagram account as she walked on a stretch of pavement.

“So we will actually stroll up and down this stretch between the hours of seven am and 10 am, and that’s the solely time we’re allowed exterior,” she mentioned.

“Genuinely, looks like we’re in jail. However, hey, it’s what it’s… Welcome to Olympic Video games, Covid version.”

Different groups on the town, together with American swimmers and star gymnast Simone Biles, additionally posted pictures from their coaching websites.

Bach will likely be in Hiroshima on Friday to mark the beginning of an “Olympic truce” endorsed by the United Nations. IOC vice-president John Coates will go to Nagasaki.

The truce goals to make sure a halt to all hostilities, permitting the secure passage and participation of athletes and spectators for the Video games.

Bach has sparked controversy by reportedly asking Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to think about permitting spectators into Olympic venues if the virus state of affairs improves.

Native media mentioned the request was made throughout a gathering between the 2 males on Wednesday, with Suga saying any adjustments to spectator guidelines can be determined by native and nationwide authorities officers with organisers and Olympic and Paralympic representatives.

Regardless of the state of emergency, as much as 5,000 spectators are allowed at non-Olympic sporting occasions in Tokyo.

However organisers argue the Video games is completely different as a result of it includes a number of occasions taking place concurrently, posing a larger danger of crowds gathering and an infection spreading.

Native media reported this week that fewer than 1,000 folks — largely dignitaries and officers — can be allowed to look at the opening ceremony on July 23.

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