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Athletes to be allowed to practice for Games from day of entry in Japan

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The Japan News, Tokyo / Asia News Network

Athletes participating in the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be allowed to practice from the day they arrive in Japan under the government’s draft coronavirus measures for the Games, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned from government sources.

Based on the measures, athletes, as well as other related personnel such as coaches, will be exempt from the 14-day self-isolation period on the condition that they undergo daily virus tests and limit the scope of their activities. Actions will be taken in case of violations — including revoking qualification certificates to compete in the Games — to give the measures teeth.

The measures are expected to be agreed on at a five-way meeting of the Tokyo Games organizing committee, the central and Tokyo metropolitan governments, the International Olympic Committee ( IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to be held as early as Wednesday.

According to the draft measures, everyone entering the country for the Games will be required to take PCR and antibody tests twice within the 96-hour-period before departing their countries and upon arrival in Japan. They will also be tested daily for three days after entering Japan.

Among the people related to the Games, athletes and those who accompany them, such as coaches, trainers and caregivers, will continue to be tested every day from the fourth day. In addition, their movements will be limited to their lodgings and venues for practice and competition. People will be required to submit written activity plans that state where and how they will travel, as well as written pledges to comply with the plan. They will also be required to report on their health conditions using a smart phone app and other means, and manage their contact history with people who have tested positive for the virus.

Violation of the plan will result in situations such as being placed under 14-day self-isolation and revocation of their qualification certificate, which is essential for participation in the Games.

Strict measures on testing and activity restrictions are aimed at easing the public’s anxiety over possible spread of the virus from overseas.

The measures also prioritize the athletes so they are fit to compete by securing time for practice.

For other Games related parties, such as members of organizing organizations and the media, the usual 14-day self-isolation period after entering the country will be applied, in principle. However, the period can be shortened to three days, or some could start their activities immediately, upon arrival if such activities are deemed necessary to put on the Games.

In such cases, the scope of activities will be limited, and contact with local residents will be forbidden. They will be required to take virus tests every four or seven days, depending on the situation, and the government will take measures such as revoking their certificate in case of violation.

“Revocation of the certificate means deportation,” a government official said. “Along with the strengthening of the testing system, we should be able to almost eliminate the risk of viruses being brought in from overseas.”

The government and the organizing committee estimate the number of foreign nationals visiting Japan during the Games period at about 15,000 for athletes and coaches, and at about 80,000 for other Games-related personnel.

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