• Kyodo, Reuters


The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee’s plan to use GPS as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is not intended to monitor the real-time whereabouts of people from overseas, but to trace and confirm their movements retroactively in the event infections are confirmed, its CEO said Wednesday.

Toshiro Muto told reporters that everyone entering Japan from abroad, including athletes, officials and members of the media, will be required to submit plans for their first 14 days in the country and turn on the GPS function on their smartphones.

“We’re not going to be tracking every single movement,” he told a news conference. “I want to trust they will follow the rules first.”

He said use of the system, already agreed upon by Olympic officials around the world, will allow organizers to confirm that the visitors followed the plans they submitted.

Speaking at a news conference after attending a virtual meeting of the International Olympic Committee’s executive board, Muto also said the organizers want to decide by the end of this month on a basic policy on alcohol consumption at the athletes’ village.

The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will bring together about 15,000 athletes from around the world. Japan has so far halved the number of Olympic officials, support workers and press members coming from abroad from the initially planned 180,000 in an effort to ensure the safety of the games.

With about 40 days until the opening ceremony of the Olympics, Tokyo remains under a COVID-19 state of emergency.

While the number of new infections have declined since late April when the emergency took effect, health care experts have warned of a possible rebound.

Shigeru Omi, the nation’s top COVID-19 adviser, has been critical of staging the Olympics and Paralympics, saying it is “not normal” to go ahead during the global health crisis.

Omi, an infectious diseases expert who heads a government subcommittee on the coronavirus, said last Friday he plans to put together recommendations on what to do with the Tokyo Games by June 20, which is scheduled to be the final day of the state of emergency.

The organizers are expected to draw a conclusion later this month on whether to allow domestic fans to attend events. Organizers decided in March to hold the games without spectators from abroad.

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