Tokyo 2020: Coronavirus countermeasures are the 'top priority'
Tokyo Games organisers have stressed vaccination will not be mandatory for those attending; IOC president Thomas Bach has confirmed many National Olympic Committees are making "good progress" in vaccinating their athletes; decision on overseas spectators to be reached by end of March
By Sarah Dawkins
Last Updated: 03/03/21 12:16pm
Coronavirus countermeasures are the "top priority" for the organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Games this summer, to ensure the safety of all participants and the Japanese population.
Ahead of a meeting today with Tokyo officials, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach reiterated their "full commitment" to delivering safe, secure and fair competitions which will not put athletes or the Japanese people at risk.
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Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto, International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and Olympics minister Tamayo Marukawa, are all taking part in the meeting with Bach to discuss Covid-19 countermeasures and other priorities, including the presence of spectators at venues.
While organisers have stressed that vaccination will not be mandatory for those attending the Games this summer, IOC president Bach confirmed that many National Olympic Committees are making "good progress" in vaccinating their athletes.
"A considerable number of National Olympic Committees have already secured this pre-Tokyo vaccination and a very considerable number are in contact with their respective governments to allow for vaccination before Tokyo after the first wave of risk population have been vaccinated," said Bach.
"This is an important message for Japan that the Olympic participants, with these efforts to get vaccinated, also want to show their solidarity with the Japanese people and with the entire Olympic community."
Countries known to have already vaccinated their athletes are Lithuania, Serbia, Israel and Singapore.
IPC President Andrew Parsons reiterated the commitment to health and safety, adding it is now "time to be flexible but firm, strict but sensible, realistic but cooperative" with their decisions.
With less than five months to go until the Olympics start on July 24, Tokyo is still under state of emergency restrictions and the Japanese government is now thought to be considering a two-week extension due to the pressure on healthcare services.
Hashimoto expects a decision on whether overseas spectators will be able to attend the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games to be reached by March 25, in time for the start of the Olympic torch relay.
She added that a decision on venue capacity limits would be taken at the end of April, using current domestic capacity limits as a base.
Another key priority for Tokyo 2020 organisers in recent weeks has been addressing the issue of gender equality after former president Yoshiro Mori stepped down after making sexist remarks.
After approving the expansion of the executive board yesterday, 12 more women from diverse fields of expertise have now been appointed, taking the total to 19-42 per cent of the board.
Tokyo 2020 president Hashimoto said the move was a hugely positive step and "our efforts will continue with speed to restore confidence and trust in Tokyo 2020".