Thomas Bach to visit new Japanese PM, Tokyo Olympic leaders

TOKYO (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach is planning a trip to Japan next month to meet with new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and organizers of the postponed Tokyo Olympics, organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto said Friday.

In an on-line briefing, Muto said the trip was scheduled for the middle of November.

“I don’t know the specific timing,” Muto said, adding he expected the prime minister’s office to handle the details.

The International Olympic Committee did not confirm the dates.

“No dates for the visit of the IOC President to Japan have been decided yet,” the IOC said in a statement.

Bach and local organizers have been trying to assure sponsors and broadcasters over the last few months that the postponed Olympics can open on July 23, 2021, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Japan has invested billions of dollars to organize the Olympics, and the IOC relies on two Olympics — Summer and Winter — during every four-year cycle for almost all of its revenue.

About 1,600 deaths in Japan have been attributed to the coronavirus. Although Japan has been relatively unscathed by the virus, this is not the case in many of the other 205 countries and territories represented at the Olympics.

The event next year will draw 15,400 Olympic and Paralympic athletes, and thousands of staff, officials and media. It is unclear if fans will be permitted or, if so, in what numbers. It is even less clear if fans from abroad will be able to enter Japan in large numbers.

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