Olympic delegations from Pakistan and five South Asian neighbors will be vaccinated before the Tokyo Games, organizers said Friday, as concern rises over the risks of coronavirus variants spreading at the event. The move affects delegations coming from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Nepal, Tokyo 2020 and the International Olympic Committee said.
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The six countries are all subject to Japan’s highest level border restrictions, in part because of concern about the so-called Indian variant of the virus.
The IOC said national Olympic committees from the six countries had also agreed to conduct additional testing of delegation members, beyond the two tests within 96 hours of travel to Japan already required under current rules. Details of the additional testing were not specified.
Tokyo 2020 organizers declined to say whether media and other participants coming from the six countries would have to be vaccinated to enter Japan, saying it was still consulting with the local government.
The IOC has said it expects up to 80 percent of those staying in the Olympic village during the Games to be vaccinated by the time they arrive in Japan.
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But organizers are facing strong domestic opposition in Japan to hosting the Games this summer, with most backing further postponement or outright cancellation.
Japan is currently battling a fourth wave of virus infections and the government is extending a state of emergency in Tokyo and other regions until June 20, just over a month before the Games.