IOC chief lauds ‘best-prepared Tokyo’ as Games Village opens

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TOKYO – Olympics chief Thomas Bach praised Tokyo on Tuesday (July 13) as the “best-ever prepared” host city, as athletes began entering the Olympic Village 10 days before the opening ceremony.

The final countdown to the Games comes with Tokyo under a coronavirus state of emergency and spectators banned from attending all Olympic events in the city and surrounding regions.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Bach, who arrived in Japan last week and spent three days in quarantine, told Tokyo 2020 chief Seiko Hashimoto that the organisers were “doing a fantastic job”.

“You have managed to make Tokyo the best-ever prepared city for an Olympic Games,” he said.

“This is even more remarkable under the difficult circumstances we all have to face.”

The pair met as the first athletes began entering the Olympic Village, which opened on Tuesday without any of the welcome ceremonies or opportunities often seen at the Games.

The organisers declined to even specify which teams were entering or how many athletes were now in the Village.

Strict coronavirus rules mean athletes can enter the Village only five days before their events and must leave within 48 hours of winning or being eliminated.

Despite the low-key opening, Bach said the organisers could “be confident that the stage is set”.

Aside from the spectator ban in Tokyo and surrounding regions, the public will also be kept out of almost all venues elsewhere in Japan.

Athletes, the media and officials are subject to regular virus testing and limits on their movement.

Polls have regularly found most Japanese would prefer the Olympics to be postponed further or cancelled outright, though opposition has softened in recent weeks.

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