Tokyo Olympics: Lord Coe issues warning over UK athletics
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The Olympics are on track to start in a few weeks, with an official start date of July 23. The games have been a long time coming, as they should have commenced on July 24, 2020. But while the pandemic has since receded from some parts of the world, host country Japan has recently experienced a steep rise in infections.
Can the Olympics go ahead?
The latest figures from Japan show Covid is making a significant comeback.
The country has declared a state of emergency, with cases nearly tripling since last month.
On June 21, officials reported 864, with yesterday’s (July 8) clocking in at 2,230.
Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga said the state of emergency would “prevent the resurgence” of more Covid cases they believe could continue between 1,000 and 2,000 a day in August.
Olympic officials have resolved the games can still go ahead, however.
But they will need to run under conditions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Tokyo officials have announced rules for athletes and spectators travelling to their city.
Immediately requested changes are for bars, restaurants and premises serving alcohol to close.
These, in theory, should prevent cases from spreading through socialisation and celebration.
The most transformative measure, however, is the no-spectator policy.
Olympic officials will shut out all potential attendees, meaning people who have booked tickets can’t watch their country compete.
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The rule applies both to foreign and local spectators, much to the disappointment of Japanese and British representatives.
Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto apologised for the changes.
She said: “It is regrettable that we are delivering the Games in a very limited format, facing the spread of coronavirus infections.
“I am sorry for those who purchased tickets.”
Andy Anson, chief executive of the British Olympic Association, said it is “sad” to see these changes after the success of Euro 2020.
He said a lot of the association lies with the Japanese people, who miss out on the experience Londoners had in 2012.
But he said it would be “outrageous” for organisers to pull dedicated athletes from the games given “the amount of work and effort that has gone into it.”
Athletes will need to comply with a contact tracing “playbook”, and the British Government has said it will work to provide Team GB with both jabs before the games begin.
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