Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee chief executive officer, Toshiro Muto denied claims that the entry of 10 countries, including Malaysia will be barred from next month’s Olympics due to a surge in the COVID-19 cases.
Muto said the possibility to deny entry, was not even considered, but contingents from several countries are required to be fully vaccinated before arriving in Japan for the Games, scheduled to begin 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.
“So they need to consult IOC and they will come vaccinated before making an entry into Japan,” he said in the press conference at Tokyo, today. The Tokyo 2020 Press office shared the press conference visuals with Bernama.
He also denied that there were discussions to cancel or further delay the Olympic and Paralympic Games, already been postponed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A daily newspaper today reported 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.
According to the report, if the committee did not deny entry, stricter measures would be imposed, including a 14-day quarantine.
Besides Malaysia, the countries likely to be named in the report are India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Vietnam and the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, the Youth and Sports Ministry (KBS) is always in close contact with the Foreign Ministry and the Malaysian embassy in Japan for any new developments regarding the national contingent’s participation in next month’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
Its minister, Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican sad that he also ordered the National Sports Council to discuss with the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) and all relevant parties to get confirmation and detailed information regarding the matter.
“I am aware of media reports that there may be 10 countries which will not allowed to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, including Malaysia. It is also related to the list of 159 countries barred from entering Japan according to a statement issued by the Japan Foreign Ministry.
“The statement also mentioned that exemptions could be given to several categories of foreign nationals, including athletes and other persons concerned with Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020,” he said in a statement today.
Meanwhile, Reezal Merican said the momentum of the national athletes’ preparations currently was at a good level, including physical and mental training, for the Olympics, scheduled to take place in 45 days.
“In addition to ensuring the best preparations for athletes, KBS will always prioritise the safety and health of athletes, coaches and officials involved. All the latest developments regarding this matter will be announced periodically,” he said.
In this regard, OCM president Tan Sri Mohamad Norza Zakaria told Bernama the council had not received any announcement regarding the matter, and wanted to seek an explanation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japanese government about the issue while IOC said in an email that border control measures were the jurisdiction of the country involved.