The Japanese government has decided to suspend special entry conditions for athletes and team staff from countries and regions where new, potentially more infectious variants of the coronavirus have been found, sources with knowledge of the matter said Tuesday.
The policy, which will be in place until the end of January, could affect athletes and staff planning to attend competitions and training camps in preparation for the postponed Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics next summer.
The government has already notified the Japanese Olympic Committee and other bodies likely to be impacted by the changes, according to the sources.
The tougher conditions for athletes are in line with the suspension since Monday of new entries into Japan by nonresident foreign nationals arriving from most of the world.
Japanese athletes with special permission to attend practice and competitions immediately upon reentry must now undertake a full 14-day quarantine if arriving from the designated countries and regions including Belgium, Britain, France, Italy and South Africa.
Foreign athletes and staff with residency in Japan will be subject to the same conditions, but those without resident status are unlikely to be admitted before the end of January.
The new restrictions are expected to delay the entry of Japan's new women's national hockey team coach, former Spain international Xavi Arnau, who had been set to oversee player selection trials upon arriving from his base in Belgium next month.
The list of restricted countries and regions is subject to change, based on conditions related to the new coronavirus variants.
The government decided in November to relax the entry restrictions, imposed to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, for athletes traveling to the country in the run-up to the games.