TOKYO - Japan is considering exempting spectators from abroad for next summer's Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics from the 14-day quarantine period, a measure currently imposed in principle on international travelers to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, government sources said Tuesday.
While the government has yet to decide whether to permit overseas spectators to attend the Summer Games, if approved they will likely be required to test negative for the coronavirus multiple times before departure and have their condition monitored after entry into Japan, according to the sources.
But unlike foreign athletes and staff, for which the government is also planning to ease entry restrictions, spectators will be permitted to use public transport given the difficulties in restricting their movements.
The proposals will be discussed on Thursday at a meeting of the central and the Tokyo metropolitan governments, as well as the local Olympic organizing committee.
But even if the attendance of overseas spectators is approved, the government will give further consideration on whether to allow entry to those arriving from countries where infections are on the rise.
Olympic organizers are expected to make their decision regarding the number of spectators who will be allowed into the games by around spring.
The government already plans to allow foreign athletes and staff, including those from countries and regions on which Japan imposes an entry ban, to arrive in the country provided they submit proof of having tested negative for the virus and take sufficient precautionary measures while in the country.
The athletes will be able to compete in international tournaments or participate in training camps, even during the two-week quarantine period, if all conditions are fulfilled, with the same rules applying to Japanese athletes who come back to the country from abroad.
The government plans to bring forward the introduction of the special system, which will become effective after Thursday's meeting if approved, to help the athletes prepare for the games, according to the sources.