IOC President Thomas Bach will arrive in Tokyo on July 8th and spend three days in solitary confinement before holding meetings before the opening of the postponed Tokyo Olympics on July 23rd, Tokyo organizers and the International Olympic Committee said on Wednesday.
Bach is also expected to visit Hiroshima on July 16, at the same time as his vice president and counterpart John Coates will visit Nagasaki.
Visiting dignitaries often visit the cities as a reminder of the US nuclear attacks in August 1945 during World War II.
Prior to Bach’s visit, COVID-19 cases were on the rise in Tokyo.
On Wednesday, Tokyo announced 714 new cases – the highest in five weeks and the 11th consecutive day in Tokyo – that the cases were higher than seven days ago.
Only about 12% of Japanese are fully vaccinated. The quasi-state of emergency ends on July 12 with the possibility for civil servants to have to restore another state of emergency that may be in effect when the Olympics open.
In controversial remarks made just over a month ago, Coates was asked if the Olympics could be held during a state of emergency.
“The answer is absolutely yes,” he replied.
The IOC continued with the Olympics despite strong local opposition, in part because it earned almost 75% of its revenue from the sale of television rights. This income stopped during the pandemic.
Officially, Japan is spending $ 15.4 billion on the Olympics, although government audits show that this is much more. All but $ 6.7 billion is public money.
Tokyo government officials have already decided to remove the Olympic torch relay from the streets of Tokyo from July 9th to July 16th. It is not clear what shape the relay will take from July 17 until the opening ceremony on July 23 at the National Stadium.
The relay began in March in northeastern Japan. It has encountered numerous bypass programs, scaled-down programs, and is sometimes run only in public park spaces to avoid the spread of the virus.
Organizers and the government are under pressure to improve screening after a team member from Uganda received positive results earlier this month at Tokyo Narita Airport and was quarantined there.
But the rest of the nine-member team was allowed to travel more than 500 kilometers (310 miles) by rented bus to their camp before the Olympics in western Osaka prefecture.
Three days later, a second Ugandan was also positive, forcing seven city officials and drivers who had close contact with the team to isolate themselves. Team members were quarantined at a local hotel.
Concerns escalated after it was reported that both Ugandans had the delta variant of the virus, which is thought to spread more easily.