Olympics-IOC's Bach scraps plans for quick visit, will be in Tokyo in mid-July


FILE PHOTO: International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach in Lausanne, Switzerland, May 12, 2021. Greg Martin/IOC/Handout via REUTERS

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach will arrive in Tokyo in the middle of July ahead of the Olympic Games and will not visit before, he said on Thursday.

Bach had wanted to travel to Tokyo in recent months to monitor preparations ahead of the postponed Olympics but those plans were put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He said he would arrive prior to the July 23 start of the Games, postponed last year due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

"This has been discussed with Tokyo 2020 whether it would really make sense to go back and forth," Bach told a virtual news conference.

"Going to Tokyo, having to respect the quarantine, to be there for a couple of hours and then after two weeks going again having to respect quarantine," he said.

"We came to the conclusion that it would be better I arrive mid July in Tokyo, in time for the Games and all the preceding meetings and visits and organisation issues."

The IOC holds a series of meetings, including a session, prior to the start of the Olympic Games.

Japan has been spared the widespread infections seen elsewhere, but has recorded more than 760,000 cases and more than 13,600 deaths. Tokyo and some other regions are under a state of emergency set to be lifted on June 20.

About 11% of Japanese have had at least one vaccine dose - low compared with other rich nations.

To try and reassure the public, Tokyo 2020 organisers have banned foreign visitors and said visiting athletes and media crews will be monitored via GPS for the first 14 days of their stay to ensure they do not stray from itineraries.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Toby Davis)

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