Tokyo 2020

Tokyo Olympics Committee Gives Green-light as it Announces Test Events

Local organizers on Friday announced that it was preparing a series of 18 test events beginning March to May.

The Tokyo Olympics are set to open on July 23, 2021, after being postponed eight months ago because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement in an online news conference came the same day that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported a one-day record of 570 new coronavirus infections in the capital.

Although Japan has handled the pandemic better than most countries, cases have been surging recently with about 2,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in a country of 125 million.

A track and field meet on May 9 at the new National Stadium is listed as a test event.

It is not clear if athletes from abroad will participate.

Hidemasa Nakamura, the games delivery officer, said none of the test events will allow fans from abroad, although some events will permit an unspecified number of fans from Japan.

“No, we will not have spectators from abroad,” Nakamura said.

Several of the events will not even involve athletes, testing “operations” only as a way to cut back on spending.

Japan has held sports events recently with fans. The final game of the Japan Series of professional baseball this week drew about 19,000 fans in a 38,000-seat stadium in Fukuoka. And a few thousand fans were allowed to attend an international gymnastics event earlier this month in Tokyo.

The announcement by the Tokyo organizing committee is the latest in a campaign over the last several months to convince a global audience, sponsors and the Japanese public that the Olympics and Paralympics will take place despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organizers are to announce a “toolbox” of preliminary countermeasures next month against COVID-19, although they are likely to be vague and subject to many changes going into next year.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, who was in Tokyo this month to talk up the games, acknowledged much of the planning hinges around the availability of vaccines and rapid testing.

He said they were not a “silver bullet” but certainly would be a help along with social distancing, masks and near-quarantine conditions in the Athletes Village.

Bach said athletes would not be required to take a vaccine.

He said young Olympic athletes were not a priority ahead of millions of health care workers, the elderly and other vulnerable populations.

 

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