IOC president Thomas Bach's visit to Japan postponed amid Covid crisis

Olympic Games organisers are left embarrassed again as IOC president Thomas Bach’s visit to Japan next week is postponed amid rising Covid cases and an extended state of emergency in the host city of Tokyo

  • Thomas Bach was set to attend a torch relay event and meet the prime minister
  • IOC president is now unlikely to visit Japan until June amid rising Covid cases
  • Emergency measures are in place in Tokyo, with over 7,000 daily cases recorded
  • Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga insists public health is still his priority 

Tokyo 2020 organisers faced fresh embarrassment on Monday after being forced to postpone the scheduled visit of International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.

Bach was due in Japan next week to attend a torch relay event in Hiroshima and then meet Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga.

But with emergency Covid-19 measures in place in Tokyo until the end of the month, the IOC chief is now unlikely to visit until June – the month before the Olympics are due to start.

IOC president Thomas Bach will no longer make a scheduled visit to Japan next week

Members of the public wear face masks to protect themselves from Covid in Tokyo last week

A Tokyo 2020 statement said: ‘In the light of the extension of the state of emergency last week and various circumstances we are facing, the visit of IOC president Bach to Japan scheduled for 17 and 18 May has been postponed.

‘We will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation in Japan and other relevant factors and will re-arrange his visit to Japan as soon as possible.’

A new opinion poll released on Monday showed that 59 per cent of the Japanese public want the Olympics to be cancelled, with PM Suga forced to defend his ongoing support for the Games. Daily coronavirus cases topped 7,000 at the weekend for the first time since mid-January.

Athletes took part in a test event at Tokyo’s National Stadium on Sunday as organisers push on

But Suga said: ‘I’ve never put the Olympics first. My priority has been to protect the lives and health of the Japanese population. We must first prevent the spread of the virus.’

Meanwhile, one of Japan’s most high-profile athletes, tennis star Naomi Osaka, has questioned whether the Olympics should go ahead.

The world No 2 admitted: ‘For me, I feel like if it’s putting people at risk, then it definitely should be a discussion, which I think it is as of right now. At the end of the day, I’m just an athlete, and there is a whole pandemic going on.’

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