Japan to allow athletes, coaches in under COVID-19 rules: Kyodo

Politics Sports

(Reuters) - Japan will allow professional athletes and coaches, including those with soccer and baseball teams, into the country if they undergo strict anti-coronavirus measures, the Kyodo news agency reported on Thursday, citing a source familiar with the matter.

Japan has temporarily suspended exemptions allowing foreign athletes into the country as it closed its borders to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The Kyodo report said roughly 100 athletes and coaches have been unable to enter Japan with the J-League soccer season starting last month and the Nippon Professional Baseball season set to commence next week.

It added that athletes and coaches will be given a “special circumstances” immigration exemption and must follow strict protocols and get tested regularly to train during their subsequent 14-day quarantine period.

Testing will be done every three to four days with athletes expected to stay in facilities where entire floors have been reserved for them.

Those who test negative for the novel coronavirus through their quarantine period can join their teams for training or competition, the report added.

Japan is set to lift the coronavirus state of emergency in the Tokyo area on Sunday, ahead of the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which have been rescheduled to begin on July 23.

More than 70,000 people - including athletes, coaches and media representatives - are expected to enter the country for the Games, Nikkei reported, citing estimates in Japan.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)