Olympic Journalists May Have Phones Tracked to Ensure COVID Quarantine Rules Followed

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said Olympic reporters may be supervised via GPS to make sure they fulfill their 14-day quarantine upon arriving in Japan for the Summer Games, the Associated Press reported. The finalized guidelines for journalists will be detailed in the third Playbook expected to be released this month.

Media members will be tested for COVID-19 twice before traveling and undergo more tests once they arrive in Japan, Muto said. Additionally, journalists will have to sign a "pledge" to abide by the health and safety guidelines put in place for them, such as a limitation on free movement during the two-week quarantine.

"If any violations are found, measures such as suspension or deprivation of accreditation and deportation proceedings will be strictly applied," Muto said.

Muto said media members can resume normal work after the waiting period. He did not disclose whether IOC officials, national Olympic committee officials, broadcasters and others traveling to Japan for the games would be subject to the same tracking conditions.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Tokyo National Stadium
Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said Olympic reporters may be supervised via GPS to make sure they fulfill their 14-day quarantine upon arriving in Japan for the Summer Games. Above, workers paste the overlay on the wall of the National Stadium, where the opening ceremony and many other events are scheduled for the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics, June 2, 2021, in Tokyo. Roads are being closed off around Tokyo Olympic venues including the new $1.4 billion National Stadium, where the opening ceremony is set for July 23. Eugene Hoshiko/AP Photo

Roads were being closed Tuesday around Tokyo Olympic venues, including the new $1.4 billion National Stadium, where the opening ceremony is set for July 23.

This is a clear sign that Tokyo Olympic planners and the International Olympic Committee are moving forward despite public opposition, warnings about the risks of the Games becoming a spreader event, and Tokyo and other parts of Japan being under a state of emergency until June 20.

"Today we are only 45 days away from the opening ceremony, although the state of emergency is in effect and the situation remains severe nationwide," organizing committee President Seiko Hashimoto told an executive board meeting Tuesday. "The number of new COVID-19 cases in Tokyo has started to decrease little by little and we strongly hope the situation will be under control as soon as possible."

New infections in Tokyo are down to around 500 cases a day from 1,000 a month ago. The number of hospitalizations and the seriously ill have also decreased, but the levels are still higher than last fall when COVID-19 variants were not prevalent in Japan.

Experts last week on the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's pandemic panel said that movement of people in central Tokyo had been rising for three weeks. They warned new infections could rebound if people continue to increase their mobility.

The prime minister's office said 3.66% of Japanese people were fully vaccinated as of Monday. It said 10.7% had at least one shot in what has been a slow vaccine rollout.

Japan has attributed about 13,500 deaths to COVID-19, good by some standards but not as low as many countries in Asia.

Dr. Hiroshi Oshitani, a virologist at Tohoku University and a government adviser, reminded about the potential spread of infection in Japan and in other countries after the Olympics.

"The government and the IOC...keep saying they're holding a safe Olympics," Oshitani was quoted saying in the Times of London. "But everybody knows there is a risk. It's 100% impossible to have an Olympics with zero risk."

Pushback against the Olympics remains strong with 50% to 80% opposed to the games going ahead depending how the question is phrased. Saitama prefecture, just north of Tokyo, on Monday called off plans for two public viewing areas.

Kaori Yamaguchi, an Olympic bronze medalist for Japan in judo in 1988 and a Japanese Olympic Committee board member, wrote last week that Tokyo and Japan had been "cornered" into holding the Olympics.

The IOC is pressing ahead, reliant on broadcast rights for 73% of its income.

Japan has officially spent $15.4 billion to organize the Olympics, and government audits say it's much larger. All but $6.7 billion is private money. The IOC's overall contribution is about $1.5 billion.

In the latest numbers provided by local organizers, 11,090 Olympians are lined up to enter Tokyo. In addition, 59,000 other people will enter for the Olympics for a total of 70,090.

They include: Olympic Family (3,000); national Olympic committees (14,800); international sports federations (4,500); Olympic Broadcasting Service and other broadcasters (16,700); media (5,500); others (14,500).

The Paralympics involve 4,400 athletes, plus 19,000 more in categories similar to the Olympic breakdown for a total of 23,400.

Combined, that is 93,490 people for both events. Organizers say the number is 50% less than the original forecast of 180,000 entering for the Paralympics and Olympics.

Although organizers confirmed those numbers, Muto suggested 105,000 people might be the total number for the Olympics and Paralympics. Organizers did not offer immediate clarification.

Toshiro Muto
Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said Olympic reporters may be supervised via GPS to make sure they fulfill their 14-day quarantine upon arriving in Japan for the Summer Games. Above, Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee CEO Toshiro Muto attends a press conference after a five-party meeting of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games on April 28, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. Franck Robichon/Getty Images