Olympic testing will resume in March, Tokyo 2020 organizers said on Friday, as they pursue plans to host the Games this summer despite rising coronavirus infections around the world.
The majority of the events, which serve as a dress rehearsal for each sport, had already taken place before the historic decision was taken last March to postpone the Olympics by one year, when the pandemic was spreading on the planet.
But 18 of them are yet to take place, from water polo to track cycling, including a repeat of the Olympic marathon that was moved from Tokyo to Sapporo’s northern city.
An important role of the tests, most of which are scheduled between April and May, will be to assess the measures put in place as part of the Covid-19 emergency plan, said Yasuo Mori, deputy executive director of the Bureau of Games operations.
“For the big competition-type tests, athletes will come to Japan from overseas, and (these tests) will probably take place with spectators,” he told reporters.
Audiences will not come from abroad, and it is not yet decided how many spectators will attend each event, he added.
Let’s learn about Shooting! @ISSF_Shooting
A tense and testing sport, shooting requires immense focus, patience, and a steady aim.
— #Tokyo2020 (@Tokyo2020) November 28, 2020
The upsurge in infections and new containment measures worldwide has sparked renewed skepticism about the possibility of hosting the Olympics if the pandemic is not brought under control before the opening ceremony, now scheduled for the 23rd. July 2021.
IOC boss Thomas Bach assured last week that he was “very, very confident” that spectators could attend the Tokyo Games.
And he is committed to ensuring that as many participating athletes as possible will be vaccinated if a vaccine is available, but this is not an obligation.
Japan has experienced a relatively small outbreak of the novel coronavirus compared to many other nations, with over 2,000 deaths and 137,000 confirmed cases.
But the country is currently facing a third wave of respiratory disease, with a record number of daily infections recorded in all regions in the past few days.