In a big relief for athletes from Malaysia, India and eight other South-East Asian countries, Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee chief executive officer, Toshiro Muto has denied reports that entry of 10 Asian countries will be barred from next month’s Olympics due to a surge in the Covid-19 cases.
The notion of denying access was not even discussed, according to Muto, but contingents from countries which have seen surge in COVID-19 cases are required to be completely vaccinated before arriving in Japan for the Games, which start on July 23.
“We have never heard of that, it is completely groundless, we cannot consider it as a possibility,” the Tokyo 2020 boss said.
“There is concern on the new variant from India, for that reason, before they come to Japan, they need to be fully vaccinated. That is the policy we have announced, 100 per cent vaccinations is recommended and required (for athletes) from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and other related countries.
It was reported on Tuesday in Malaysia that, the Japanese government issued a circular to the Olympic organising committee to “deny entry” to athletes from 10 countries experiencing a spike in Covid-19 cases. This has created quite an uproar in the South-East Asian country with the delayed quadrennial games around the corner.
Besides Malaysia and India, the countries named in the report are Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Vietnam and the United Kingdom.
According to their Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, “For the time being, foreign nationals who have stayed in any of the following 159 countries/regions within 14 days prior to the application for landing are denied to enter Japan in pursuant to the Article 5, paragraph (1), item (xiv) of Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, unless special exceptional circumstances are found,” it read.
“Note that foreigners (from the countries and regions where the entry bans do not apply) are not denied to enter Japan even when they arrive in Japan via those countries or regions, which are subject to denial of permission to entry, for refueling or transit purpose," it further added.
According to the report, if the committee did not deny entry, stricter measures would be imposed, including a 14-day quarantine.
Currently, Japan’s quarantine measures states that, ”From January 8,2021, all those who enter, re-enter or return to Japan (including Japanese nationals) are also subject to conducting of COVID-19 test upon arrival no matter whether arriving from the countries/regions designated as an area subject to denial of permission to enter Japan or not until further notice. Then they are required to stay 14 days at a location designated by the quarantine station chief (own residence etc.) and to refrain from using public transportation.”
Even if they are granted entry into Japan, they will be denied the chance to train at the venues. Even if they are under a 14-day quarantine, the athletes can only train inside their hotel rooms, which is of little help when they are competing at Olympic level.