Suga: Japan wants to further reduce number of foreigners at Olympics

Olympic hosts Japan want to further reduce the number of people from overseas for the upcoming Tokyo Games, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Wednesday.

Suga said in parliament that the number of officials, other staff and journalists from outside Japan is to be further reduced for the July 23-August 8 Games owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

The initial figure of 180,000 accredited people has already been more than halved, and foreign fans are not allowed into Japan.

Suga also reaffirmed that Japan remains committed to stage the Games which have been postponed by one year over the global health crisis.

“I want to send a message from Japan that the world has faced the difficulties that the coronavirus brought with it and has overcome them through unity,” Suga said.

He also pledged that all residents who wanted to be vaccinated would get the jab by November.

The slow start of the vaccination programme, a rising number of infections and the extension of a state of emergency in Tokyo until at least June 20 have all contributed to calls to cancel the Games or postpone then again.

According to surveys at least 60 per cent of the Japanese don’t want the Olympics and Paralympics to take place this year.

Critics also say that Suga hopes the Games will be successful to boost his chances in the general ecetions set for autumn.

The government, local organizers, and the International Olympic Committee are moving ahead and determined to stage safe and secure Games.

The IOC executive board heard another report from Tokyo organizers on Wednesday and IOC executive director Christophe Dubi insisted the IOC is taking every warning call, including from doctors and scientists, seriously.

He reiterated to reporters that the IOC plans to have at least 80 per cent of the 10,900 athletes vaccinated.

He said that a final decision on allowing spectators into the venues will be made in late June and that “we are learing from other events” – such as tennis grand slams and the upcoming European football championships – “how to manage spectators and competitions.”

Dubi said that after recent events in Japan “a lot of confidence is coming from participants that they are in an environment that is safe and secure.”

He said the official final version of the playbooks for all stakeholders at the Games on coronavirus countermeasures would be published next week, and that the IOC is waiting for the Japanese side to say whether they needs additional doctors and nurses.