Tokyo 2020 Wrap: Emergency Measures; Torch Relay, Test Events Changes

(ATR) The Tokyo 2020 president reiterates that cancelling the Games is not being considered amid a new state of emergency.

(ATR) The president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee reiterates that cancelling the Games is not being considered as a COVID-19 state of emergency is declared for the Japanese capital and three other prefectures.

Assurances from Hashimoto Seiko that the Games will open as scheduled in July have become a staple of her weekly Friday press conferences.

"We are putting our utmost efforts to prepare coronavirus countermeasures so (the public) can understand that the Tokyo Games can be held," Hashimoto told reporters on April 23, as reported by Kyodo News.

The state of emergency, which includes Tokyo and the western prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo, will begin on Sunday and stay in place until May 11 to blunt a possible rise in infections surrounding the upcoming Golden Week holidays.

IOC president Thomas Bach alluded to the plan at a news conference following the IOC Executive Board meeting on Wednesday, saying ""It is a preventative measure and for this limited time. This is absolutely in line with the overall policy of the government, but it is not related to the Olympic Games."

The state of emergency will affect a marquee test event ahead of the Games. The athletics event scheduled for May 9 at the National Stadium will now be held without spectators. The plan had been to have about 20,000 people in attendance.

The number of domestic spectators allowed to enter venues for the Olympics will likely be discussed next week in another five-party online meeting among Games stakeholders.

Hashimoto said representatives from Tokyo 2020 will be joined by those from the IOC, the International Paralympic Committee, and the governments of Japan and Tokyo.

Overseas spectators have already been ruled out in a decision made last month.

Bach said on Wednesday that the second version of the COVID-19 guidelines "playbook" for athletes will also be released next week.

The IOC president also said that his planned visit to Japan is still in the "planning phase". It has been reported that his trip will take place on May 17-18.

Torch Relay Updates

The Olympic Torch Relay on public roads and mini-celebrations at Miyakojima on Okinawa on May 2 will not be staged as the region is currently subject to Priority Measures for Containment of the Spread of Infection.

Organizers also said on Friday that Torch Relay segments in the prefectures of Yamaguchi, Shimane, Hiroshima, Okayama, Tottori, Hyogo, Kyoto and Shiga are expected to take place as planned on public roads. The dates for these stops on the relay route are May 13 through May 28, after the state of emergency, which includes Hyogo and Kyoto, is due to end on May 11.

Test Events Updates

The postponed BMX Freestyle cycling test event is now scheduled to be held on May 17. The decision was announced on Friday and was reached in consultation with stakeholders including cycling governing body Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).

Artistic swimming’s final Olympic qualifier, which could not be staged in Tokyo, will be held in Barcelona from June 10-13. The Japanese team will not travel to Spain to compete.

The tournament, which was to also serve as a test event, was originally scheduled for March at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre. It was postponed until early May before being cancelled.

FINA announced earlier this week that an "operational" test event, run by Olympic organizers, will be held in July at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

Homepage photo: Tokyo 2020

Written by Gerard Farek

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