Japan will ease entry restrictions imposed to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus for athletes who will travel to the country for competition or training in the run-up to next summer's Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, government sources said Friday.
Foreign athletes and staff, including those from countries and regions on which Japan imposes an entry ban, will be allowed to enter the country provided they submit proof of having tested negative for the coronavirus and take sufficient precautionary measures while in the country, according to the sources.
They can compete in international tournaments or participate in training camps, even during a 14-day quarantine period, if all conditions are fulfilled, with the same rules applying to Japanese athletes who come back to the country from abroad, the sources said.
The Japanese government was considering relaxing the restrictions by the time of the Olympics and Paralympics, which have been delayed due to the pandemic.
But, it has decided to introduce a special system sooner to help the athletes prepare for the Summer Games.
The plan will be discussed next Thursday at a meeting of the central and the Tokyo metropolitan governments, as well as the local Olympic organizing committee, and will become effective the same day if approved, according to the sources.
The organizers are expected to adopt conditions presented at their meeting in late September, which require foreign athletes and staff to take virus tests within 72 hours prior to their departure and obtain certificates showing that they are not infected with the virus.
They are also required to monitor their health for 14 days before entering Japan and take virus tests upon their arrival at Japanese airports.
Their movements in Japan will be limited to certain locations, such as lodging facilities and competition and training venues, based on their plans and commitment letters to be submitted beforehand.
Other requirements include saving their smartphone GPS data to aid in contact tracing.
Following Thursday's meeting, a government-led panel tasked with formulating steps to counter the pandemic at the Tokyo Games plans to compile an interim report by the end of the year and start developing guidelines.