Japan to limit size of foreign delegations at Games

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TOKYO: Japan is considering limiting the number of people who will be allowed to accompany foreign ministers and leaders for the delayed Tokyo Olympics due to health concerns amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Kyodo news agency reported on Sunday.

Kyodo said the Japanese government will restrict the accompanying staff to 11 people per head of state, while cabinet-level delegations will be limited to five people, the report said.

The Tokyo Games, postponed last year due to concerns over the spread of the novel coronavirus, were rescheduled for July 23 to August 8 this year.

Kyodo said VIP guests will be asked to undergo Covid-19 testing within 72 hours of travelling to Japan and will be re-tested on arrival.

Earlier, the Sankei newspaper reported that Japan is also considering limiting spectators to 50% of venue capacity due to risks posed by the spread of the virus.

For large venues the limit for spectators could be set at 20,000, but more people may be allowed if the pandemic situation improves, it reported.

Japan’s organising committee will announce its decision next month and is expected to comply with domestic regulations, the newspaper said, citing unna­med sources in the government and on the committee.

When asked by about the story, Masa Takaya, a spokesman for the Tokyo Olympic organising committee, said a decision will be made in April.

Sources have told Reuters that Japan has decided to stage the Games without spectators from abroad due to concerns over the spread of Covid-19, but Organising Committee President Seiko Hashimoto has said that no decision has been reached.

Organisers have repeatedly spoken of their resolve to hold the Olympics this year at all costs, despite low public support.

Although the number of coronavirus cases in Japan is relatively low compared to other countries such as the United States, some areas including Tokyo are still under a state of emergency, with the country currently experiencing a third wave of the pandemic.