• Kyodo

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Japan has asked nations sending their heads of state or governments to this summer’s Olympics and Paralympics to limit the number of their accompanying staff to just 11 people, according to sources.

The restrictions are aimed at enabling countries to conduct Olympic diplomacy while minimizing the risk of the further spread of the novel coronavirus in Japan, the sources said Saturday.

Countries are also requested to limit the size of their Cabinet-level delegations, such as those headed by sports ministers, to just five people each, the sources said.

Top officials from around the world, including French President Emmanuel Macron, whose nation will host the 2024 Games in Paris, are expected to travel to Japan for the Olympics’ opening and closing ceremonies.

The Japanese government has called for the limits as Tokyo and nearby areas remain under the pandemic-induced state of emergency and are still struggling to contain the virus, the sources said.

A source with a foreign embassy said even visiting top-level officials will be asked to undergo coronavirus testing within 72 hours of departing for Japan and again upon arrival. They will be accompanied by Japanese government officials during their stays.

Visiting VIPs’ access to athletes will also be restricted, a source said. Travel will only be allowed using designated vehicles, with the use of public transport being prohibited in principle.

The Japanese government and the Tokyo Games organizing committee will explain their rules for visiting officials and virus countermeasures to governments through Japan’s embassies and their national Olympic committees.

The final framework will be hammered out based on the coronavirus situation and the responses from participating countries.

Prior to the games’ one-year postponement, Tokyo had been preparing for more than 100 heads of state and government leaders to attend the opening ceremony.

But with the global health crisis still raging, some top officials may refrain from making the trip.

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