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Olympics: IOC chief to visit Tokyo from Sun., review preparations

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach is seen in Lausanne on Nov. 11, 2020. (Photo courtesy of IOC/Kyodo)

GENEVA (Kyodo) -- International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach will visit Tokyo on Sunday for a review of the 2020 Games' venues, the organization said Wednesday, and he is also expected to hold talks with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga while in Japan.

    Bach said in a news conference following an IOC board meeting Wednesday that the possibility of canceling the summer games will not be on the agenda during his four-day stay, his first visit to the Japanese capital since the decision in March to postpone the games by one year.

    "The answer is no," he said when asked whether cancellation will be discussed.

    Though he did not confirm a meeting with Suga, Bach said he planned to visit the athletes' village and the National Stadium, and to speak to Japanese athletes after his arrival on a charter jet with a small IOC delegation.

    "The message I want to deliver to the Japanese people is that we are fully committed to the safe organization of the games," he said at the press conference.

    "This is the principle we have applied and this is the principle to which we remain committed: these games will happen in a safe environment."

    Bach also said that recent developments with regards to rapid COVID-19 testing and a potential vaccine give confidence the Olympics can be held safely next summer.

    He declined to say whether there is a deadline by which it will be decided whether international spectators will be permitted to attend the Tokyo Olympics, but added the fact test events have been successfully held points to it being possible to safely have people in stadiums.

    "I'm sorry that I will not be able to give you the exact number of spectators, but having seen now the different tests in Japan, I think we can become more and more confident that we will have a reasonable number of spectators," Bach said.

    "How many and under which conditions, again, depends very much on the future developments."

    The Japanese government on Thursday said a panel tasked with formulating measures against the novel coronavirus during the Olympics now plans to decide by next spring the upper limit of spectator numbers and whether it will accept visitors from overseas.

    The panel also presented a plan to exempt foreign spectators from a 14-day quarantine if it decides to allow them to enter the country.

    The Olympics were originally scheduled for this past summer before the coronavirus pandemic pushed it back one year to July 23-Aug. 8, 2021.

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