'There's no way': Japanese Olympic boss' staggering confession

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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A Tokyo Olympic official has claimed it will be impossible to stop athletes arriving with Covid-19, which the public (pictured right stock photo) has expressed concern about, but strict screening measures are in place for athletes. (Getty Images)
A Tokyo Olympic official has claimed it will be impossible to stop athletes arriving with Covid-19, which the public (pictured right stock photo) has expressed concern about, but strict screening measures are in place for athletes. (Getty Images)

Japan's Olympic chief has claimed it will be impossible to stop athletes from entering the country with Covid-19 after plans to tighten screening measures.

Athletes from around the world begin to arrive in Tokyo ahead of the Games taking place amid high scrutiny from the Japanese public.

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Unfortunately, Japanese Olympic Committee president Yasuhiro Yamashita said "thorough measures" would be necessary at airports, after two members of Uganda's team tested positive last week following their arrival in Japan.

"No matter what measures are put in place, there is no way we will have zero positive cases arriving," Yamashita told reporters.

"Even if you've had two vaccine doses, it doesn't guarantee every individual will be negative."

Japan recently lifted its state of emergency in six areas, including Tokyo, as officials begin final preparations for the Games.

But as of last week, only six per cent of Japan was vaccinated and the public fears 

A team of experts on Wednesday released a simulation showing a possible jump in cases during the Olympics if the spread of the new variants and people’s movements increase after emergency measures are eased.

Yasuhiro Yamashita, president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, speaks during a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo on June 28, 2021.
Yasuhiro Yamashita, president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, speaks during a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo on June 28, 2021. (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)

Health Minister Norihisa Tamura told reporters the government would not hesitate to issue another emergency declaration even in the middle of the Olympics to protect people’s lives.

Yamashita has pointed out the first security measure will start at the border.

"In order to make sure no clusters arise, we need to have thorough measures at the border at the time of entry to Japan," Yamashita said, adding that daily virus testing would also help reduce the risk of infections spreading.

But he hoped athletes would have "positive memories" of the Games, despite "severe restrictions" that mean they can't even leave the Olympic Village to buy souvenirs.

Top priority is safety says Tokyo Olympic official

Yamashita is a former Olympian himself, having won a gold medal in Judo, and understands how important it is for the Games to be memorable for athletes in the right way.

But he also admitted safety and security it the No.1 priority.

"How can international athletes have some time to relax and create some positive memories?" he said.

"Of course, the top priority is to make it safe and secure, but I think we need to make an effort to give athletes that kind of space."

The tight security involves athletes signing a pledge that they will abide by the virus restrictions.

Athletes will have to stay away from tourist areas, shops and bars during their stay.

Many athletes, including tennis superstar Serena Williams, have announced they won't be attending the Games.

A view of hand sanitisers at the main dining hall of the Olympic Village during a media tour of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Village in Tokyo on June 20, 2021. (Photo by Behrouz MEHRI / AFP) (Photo by BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images)
A view of hand sanitisers at the main dining hall of the Olympic Village during a media tour of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Village in Tokyo on June 20, 2021. (Photo by Behrouz MEHRI / AFP) (Photo by BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images)

In May, Williams said she was unlikely to participate in the Tokyo Olympics if she wasn't able to bring daughter Alexis Olympia with her.

The Olympic virus bubble has made this impractical.

Yamashita, who won gold at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics but missed the 1980 Moscow Games because Japan boycotted the event, said athletes would find it "difficult" to spend so long cooped up inside.

"I think the athletes will be spending their time here in Japan in extremely restricted conditions," he said.

"I think this is something that we need to understand, and not think of the athletes as being strong-willed or selfish."

with AP and AFP

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