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Olympic minister shifts accountability for virus rule violations onto games committee

Japan's Olympic and Paralympic minister Tamayo Marukawa (Pool photo)

TOKYO -- Olympic minister Tamayo Marukawa has passed accountability for a series of violations of Tokyo 2020 Playbook rules on COVID-19 countermeasures among athletes and games-connected individuals onto the games' organizing committee, saying questions should be directed to them.

    Her comment came after a spate of cases in which Olympic athletes and games-related personnel have been seen cheering on other athletes during matches and performances without wearing masks, among other violations of rules in the games' Playbooks.

    "The Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the International Olympic Committee have been ensuring that people at the venues are thoroughly informed (of the rules) and been promoting awareness. Please ask the organizing committee for more details," Marukawa told a post-Cabinet meeting press conference on July 30.

    Playbook rules require constant wearing of masks. But there have been some instances where athletes not participating in the day's events and games-connected individuals from various countries were seen at the venues cheering on compatriots and other competitors while maskless and loudly singing together from the stands.

    "I've been asking the organizing committee every day to swiftly confirm each case if there is suspected violation of the rules," said Marukawa, minister for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

    "I've been informed that, as countermeasures against Playbook rule violations, they have given strict warnings, had offenders submit written oaths, or temporarily suspended their accreditation," she said. However, she added, "I haven't heard about the specific number of cases."

    While the COVID-19 state of emergency currently in place for Tokyo will be extended until Aug. 31, Marukawa commented, "I understand that the measure is being carried out in light of the infection status in society at large, completely separate from the Tokyo Games."

    With regard to whether spectators would be allowed into venues for the Paralympic Games, the minister reiterated the government's previous position, stating, "At this point, we have yet to discuss the matter." A decision is set to be reached after the Tokyo Games end on Aug. 8.

    (Japanese original by Nobuyuki Mashimo, Sports News Department)

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