Tokyo Olympics athletes exempted from 14-day isolation: organisers

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Toshiro Muto, Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee Chief Executive Officer, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Tokyo
Toshiro Muto, Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee Chief Executive Officer, speaks during an interview with Reuters in Tokyo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Athletes arriving in Tokyo for next year's Olympic Games, postponed from 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, will be exempt from the 14-day isolation period Japan has imposed on anyone arriving from overseas to help stop the virus spreading.

Olympic organisers said on Thursday details still need to be worked out, but measures for athletes are likely to include coronavirus testing within 72 hours before arriving in Japan. But they warned decisions on spectators from overseas have yet to be made, saying a 14-day quarantine was "impossible".

"Athletes, coaches and Games officials that are eligible for the Tokyo Games will be allowed to enter the country, provided significant measures are made before they get to Japan," Tokyo 2020 Chief Executive Officer Toshiro Muto told a news conference.

Muto was speaking after a meeting between officials from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the national government and Tokyo 2020 organisers on infection prevention procedures during the Games.

He said a decision on foreign spectators would be made next year, depending on pandemic developments. Japan has held several recent test events, including a four-nation gymnastics meet last weekend that was attended by spectators from Japan.

"By next spring, we will be coming up with a plan for spectators, including non-Japanese spectators," he said. "It is impossible to set a 14-day quarantine period for foreign spectators, so tests before and upon arrival are needed."

If fans are allowed into the venues, they may be requested not to shout or chant to reduce the risk of airborne droplets spreading the virus, Muto added.

The no-scream guideline has been in place for months at Japan's professional soccer and baseball stadia.

"There is a possibility that spectators may be asked to refrain from shouting or talking loudly," Muto said, although no decision has been made yet.

Muto said he expected details of coronavirus counter-measures to be ironed out during a three-day visit to Japan by International Olympic Committee head Thomas Bach next week.

(Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Writing by Sakura Murakami and Elaine Lies; Editing by Kim Coghill, Kenneth Maxwell & Simon Cameron-Moore)