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Tokyo Olympics may limit athletes' stays, require social distancing

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    Kyodo News

Tokyo, Japan   /   Wed, November 18, 2020   /   09:45 pm
Tokyo Olympics may limit athletes' stays, require social distancing A woman walks past a display of the Olympic Rings in Tokyo on Tuesday (AFP/Charly Triballeau)

The organizers of the postponed Tokyo Olympics may limit competitors' stays in the athletes' village and require participants to maintain social distance in order to prevent coronavirus infections, officials said Wednesday.

Following a project review of the Tokyo Games with the governing bodies of the Olympics and Paralympics, Toshiro Muto, the local organizing committee's CEO, revealed the focus was on how to ensure a safe environment at the games.

Muto said the three organizations -- the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee and the organizing committee -- are considering asking athletes and officials to maintain a 2-meter distance from each other.

In order to prevent overcrowding in the athletes' village, the three organizations have also discussed limiting the duration of competitors' stays and will continue examining the schedule for their arrival and departure, Muto said.

The three-day meeting wrapped up on a day when Tokyo reported a record 493 new infections, while Japan logged over 2,000 for the first time.

John Coates, the chairman of the IOC coordination commission, said the athletes' village must be the "safest place in Tokyo" during the duration of the games.

"The number of athletes is not going to reduce, that will be the same," he told a press conference. "The period of staying longer in the village increases the potential for problems."

The project review was held in Tokyo with some officials participating remotely. The IOC and IPC usually hold separate review meetings, but because virus countermeasures will affect both games equally, they decided to hold their reviews together, according to the IPC.

The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics were postponed for one year, but the pandemic remains a major threat. IPC President Andrew Parsons said he is "absolutely confident" athletes will follow instructions and guidelines set by the organizers.

The organizers currently estimate a maximum of 5,000 COVID-19 tests could be performed each day in the athletes' village during the Olympics.

Earlier in the day, IOC President Thomas Bach left Japan following a visit that included talks with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike.

Hoping to boost confidence and build support among the Japanese public, Bach agreed with Suga that the Olympics will be held as planned from July 23 next year.