IOC President Bach to arrive in Japan on July 12 for Tokyo 2020 Games

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FILE PHOTO: Thomas Bach, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President speaks to the media as he visits the National Stadium, the main venue for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, in Tokyo
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TOKYO (Reuters) -International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach plans to arrive in Japan on July 12, 11 days ahead of the planned opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, amid continued local concern about the games going ahead.

Plans for Bach to visit Japan in May were postponed because of a government-issued state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas aimed at containing the spread of coronavirus infections.

The opening ceremony is due to be held on July 23.

In a letter released by IOC senior official John Coates, after Bach's arrival on July 12 the IOC will move to "full Games-time coordination operations" in Tokyo.

Coates himself will arrive in Japan on June 15 to finalise preparations on site, according to the letter, which was addressed to athletes, sponsors, and other stakeholders and posted on the IOC's website on Wednesday.

The IOC kicked off a three-day meeting with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Committee and other organisers on Wednesday. During his opening remarks, Bach reiterated his commitment to hold the Games this summer, saying organisers were "fully focused on the delivery of the Olympic Games".

However, the global sporting event - which was postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic - faces mounting opposition from the Japanese public over fears it could trigger coronavirus outbreaks and burden medical services amid a slow vaccine roll-out.

As support wavers, organisers have sought to reassure the public that the Games can be held safely with coronavirus prevention measures in place.

Organisers are now making arrangements to halve the number of people coming to Japan as part of foreign Olympic delegations, broadcaster NHK reported on Thursday.

Some 94,000 people are expected to make their way to Japan for the games, down from an initial estimate of 200,000 people, NHK said citing unnamed government sources.

Foreign spectators will also be barred from watching the games in Japan. However, organisers have not confirmed whether they plan to allow domestic spectators into the venues, saying that a decision will be made in June.

(Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Editing by Tom Hogue and Toby Chopra)