Tokyo Olympic: International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach arrived in Japan for the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday, two weeks ahead of the opening of the games, with the Japanese capital experiencing a spike in coronavirus infections.
The IOC president arrived at Tokyo’s Haneda airport amid rising concern the Olympics could trigger a further surge in infections, while the Japanese government has started considering staging the games without spectators at venues in and around the capital.
Due to another wave of COVID-19 infections, the Japanese government plans to declare a state of emergency for Tokyo, possibly until Aug. 22, senior government officials said Wednesday.
Having already barred spectators from overseas in March, the IOC and other organizers decided late last month to allow up to 10,000 local fans per venue during the Olympics on the assumption that the coronavirus situation in the capital would improve.
However, Tokyo on Wednesday reported 920 cases of new infections, registering the highest daily count since mid-May, while medical experts continue to warn of the dangers of going ahead with the games when many countries are grappling with the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus.
Bach is expected to hold a meeting with Japanese organizers of the Olympics and Paralympics by the end of this week to decide on a new spectator policy.
According to the Japanese organizing committee, Bach will quarantine at his hotel for three days. He is set to visit the athletes’ village in Tokyo’s Harumi waterfront district and hold meetings with the organizing body, both in person and remotely.
The IOC is also arranging for Bach to visit Hiroshima, which was devastated by an atomic bombing at the end of World War II, on July 16, the first day of an Olympic truce adopted by the United Nations.
IOC Vice President John Coates, who arrived in Tokyo earlier, is planning on the same day to visit Nagasaki, the other Japanese city hit by an atomic bomb in 1945.
Coates drew criticism in Japan in May for saying that the Olympics can be held even if Tokyo is under a state of emergency.