Geneva – International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach on Wednesday expressed support for the Japanese government’s plan to impose a fresh coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo, but said the decision is unrelated to the approaching games.
Speaking at a news conference after a meeting of the IOC executive board, Bach said the decision is a proactive response appropriate for the Golden Week holiday period, which falls just three months before the Olympic opening ceremony.
“If this measure would be taken, I think it would be absolutely in line with the very diligent approach we see being taken by the Japanese government, the Tokyo metropolitan government and all of the Japanese authorities,” he said.
“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 Japanese government plans to decide on a state of emergency on Friday for Tokyo and several western prefectures that would start later this month and last for about two or three weeks, according to sources familiar with the matter.
The IOC and the Japanese organizing committee have been working to stage the Tokyo Olympics this summer — following a one-year postponement — by prioritizing the safety of athletes and others involved.
Bach voiced optimism during the news conference that the athletes’ village will be a “pretty safe place for everybody” due to the high vaccination rate of athletes and anti-virus measures laid out in the organizing committee’s coronavirus “playbook.”
He said organizers are currently working with health experts around the world to create the second edition of the playbook, which is scheduled to be released later this month.
Asked whether he thinks holding the Olympics without spectators is an option amid the pandemic, Bach said the IOC will continue to consult with the Tokyo organizing committee regarding the issue.
Last month, the IOC and other organizing bodies of the Tokyo Games agreed to hold the Olympics and Paralympics without overseas spectators.
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