Organizers of the Olympics prepared Tuesday to unveil their latest ‘handbook’ of rules for controlling COVID-19 infections as the Japanese government debated whether to extend the state of emergency and the top official Olympics John Coates arrived in Tokyo.
Coates, vice-president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and his event manager, sparked a reaction last month when he said the Games would go ahead even if Tokyo was in a state of emergency due to the pandemic.
The Japanese government plans to end the state of emergency in Tokyo and several other prefectures as scheduled on June 20, but maintains certain restrictions such as restaurant opening hours until the start of the Olympics in July, national media said.
Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, in charge of Japan’s response to COVID-19, said that with hospital occupancy and infection rates still high, it was too early to speak as if lifting state of emergency was a done deal.
“Now is the time to call on the public, to suppress infections and to take initiatives for a stable supply of hospital beds,” he said. A decision on the emergency could be made as early as Thursday, media reported.
Organizers’ rules, known as the “playbook,” already require athletes and others to wear masks in most situations and frequent testing for COVID-19. Athletes and members of the media, whose travel will be restricted, will be subject to GPS monitoring for the first 14 days of their stay in Japan.
The latest update was due to be announced later Tuesday.
Around 11,000 athletes and 78,000 journalists, officials and staff are expected to attend the Games.
Japan has not suffered from explosive outbreaks seen elsewhere but has still recorded more than 772,000 cases and more than 14,000 deaths.
A slow rollout of immunization, although accelerating recently, means that only 13% of the population has received at least one injection.
SUGA SUPPORT SLIDES
An online survey of companies from June 1-9 by think-tank Tokyo Shoko Research showed 64% were in favor of canceling or postponing the Games due to concerns such as the spread of the virus and the slowness of vaccinations. Almost 60% said it would hurt their business, but just over 40% expected a positive impact.
Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa told a press conference that Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) will provide doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to an additional 20,000 people involved in the Olympics and Paralympics, the agency reported. Kyodo press, doubling the amount previously pledged by the United States. pharmaceutical firm.
Some 80% of qualified athletes have already been vaccinated and the IOC is pushing to increase the number.
Japan’s often uneven response to the coronavirus has eroded support for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
A survey by public broadcaster NHK showed 37% approved of his government compared to 45% who disapproved, the highest rate of disapproval since taking office last September.
More than two-thirds were not convinced by his explanation of why the Games should be held or how they would be secure.
Just under a third wanted the Games canceled while 61% wanted either a cap on spectators or no spectators at all. Organizers have already decided not to allow overseas spectators and will appeal to domestic spectators later this month.
Reflecting the role of money in moving forward decisions, NBCUniversal chief executive Jeff Shell said on Monday that the event could be the highest-grossing Olympics in NBC history. NBCUniversal, owned by Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O), paid $ 7.65 billion to extend its U.S. broadcast rights for the Olympics through 2032.
The Games could be an opportunity for diplomacy. Japanese newspaper Yomiuri said South Korean President Moon Jae-In is planning a visit to Japan on the occasion of the Games, and Seoul hopes Moon will hold his first talks with Suga at that time. Read more
Japan’s top government spokesperson, however, denied that a summit was being prepared amid a row over islets claimed by the two countries. Read more
Relations between South Korea and Japan have deteriorated in recent years due to disputes over islets, the history of war and trade.
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