TOKYO (Reuters) -International Olympic Committee head Thomas Bach’s visit to Japan is now expected to be cancelled given that the state of emergency has been extended in Tokyo and other areas, broadcaster NHK said on Friday citing unnamed sources.
Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto also said on Friday that Bach’s visit might be “difficult” with coronavirus cases showing no signs of abating and the government keeping infection countermeasures in place to slow the spread of the virus.
“I suspect that coming to Japan in the midst of this very severe situation would also be an emotional burden for President Bach,” she said at a news conference held on Friday.
Japanese media reports have said Bach would attend a torch relay ceremony in the western city of Hiroshima on May 17, but Hashimoto said his visit had not been confirmed.
Tokyo 2020 organisers will keep a close eye on the coronavirus situation and make a decision on Olympic spectators in June based on that, Hashimoto also said.
The IOC said the trip by the President Bach to Japan had not yet been finalised.
“No dates for the visit of the IOC President to Japan have been decided yet,” an IOC official told Reuters.
On Friday, Japan extended a state of emergency in Tokyo and four other areas until the end of May, meaning the measures would end less than two months before the Olympics start on July 23 after being postponed for a year due to the pandemic.
(Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Writing by Elaine Lies; Additional reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by David Clarke, Alison Williams and Toby Davis)