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Monday, June 21, 2021

Japan considers asking Olympic fans for negative COVID tests, vaccinations

With the opening of the Games less than two months away, public confidence has been shaken by the fourth wave of coronavirus infections and a slow vaccination rollout.

By: Reuters | Tokyo |
Updated: May 31, 2021 5:49:39 pm
In this file photo, a man wearing a mask visits a beach as snow-capped Mount Fuji is visible in the distance in Fujisawa, Japan. (AP Photo)

Japan is considering requiring negative COVID-19 test results or vaccination records from fans attending the Tokyo Olympics, the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Monday, as a new poll showed public opposition to the Games remained strong.

With the opening of the Games less than two months away, public confidence has been shaken by a fourth wave of coronavirus infections and a slow vaccination rollout.

Foreign spectators have already been banned and game organisers are expected to make a decision next month on whether Japanese fans will be able to attend and, if so, under what conditions.

In addition to other coronavirus measures like banning loud cheering and high-fives, the Yomiuri said the government was considering whether spectators should be required to show a negative test result taken within a week of attending an Olympic event.

The report was met with outrage among some social media users, with thousands of tweets criticising the country’s continued push to host the Olympics in the middle of a pandemic. The term “negative test certificate” was trending on Twitter in Japan, garnering over 8,000 tweets on Monday morning.

The Tokyo Olympics organising committee did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment on the report.

Japan extended on Friday a state of emergency in Tokyo and other areas to June 20. The country has seen a record number of COVID-19 patients in critical condition in recent days, even as the pace of new infections has slowed.

In a poll published by the Nikkei paper on Monday, over 60% of respondents were in favour of canceling or delaying the Games, a result in line with previous polls by other media outlets.

The Games have already been postponed once due to the pandemic but the Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee have said the July 23-Aug. 8 event will go ahead under strict COVID-safe rules. (Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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