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Athletes will face daily COVID checks during Tokyo Games, says IOC

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Athletes will be tested daily while Games participants won’t be allowed to take public transport in the latest “playbook” of rules announced for the Tokyo Olympics.

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Olympic Games organisers said Wednesday preparations were full steam ahead, with IOC boss Thomas Bach committing to holding a safe and successful event despite the rising coronavirus pandemic.

Bach was speaking at the start of a meeting with Tokyo 2020 organisers to finalise the second edition of the “playbooks” of rules for the Summer Games, with less than three months to go and Japan battling a surge of cases.

Parts of Japan including the capital were put under another state of emergency at the weekend, and most of the Japanese public think the Games, postponed from 2020 because of the pandemic, should be cancelled or postponed again.

The emergency, which is due to last until May 11, requires restaurants and bars serving alcohol to close along with large stores, cinemas and other commercial facilities, asks firms to let staff work from home and excludes spectators from big sports events.

Speaking by video link, Bach told organisers, including Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto, he understood the move, and that compliance with the playbooks which lay out a number of anti-infection measures would be strictly enforced.

“The IOC is fully committed to the successful and safe delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” he said.

An earlier edition of the rules, which came out in February, banned singing and chanting during events and mandated that event participants wear masks at all times except when sleeping, eating or outdoors.

Spectators from overseas have already been excluded, but more than 10,000 athletes, coaches and their entourages are expected in July.

In the latest “playbook”, athletes will be tested daily for the virus while games participants will be checked daily on the first three days of arrival. Thereafter regular tests will follow based on the nature of role and contact with athletes.

Games participants will also not be allowed to use public transport and must eat in limited locations where countermeasures are in place.

A decision on the number of domestic spectators allowed into venues will not come until June.

Though Japan has not suffered as badly from COVID-19 as many other countries, the infection rate has risen back to levels not seen since January, and more and more are from variant strains. On Wednesday, Tokyo reported 925 new cases.

The Games run from July 23 to August 8.

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