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Japan Will Track Media With GPS, Deport for Non-Compliance at Tokyo Olympics Amid COVID Hysteria

Foreign reporters attending the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which are postponed until July and August of this year due to delays from the world’s handling of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, will be forced to sign a contract agreeing to follow strict rules on their movement through the city in addition to being tracked by GPS on penalty of expulsion, according to reports. 

CEO of the 2020 Olympic Organizing Committee, Toshiro Muto, said on June 8 that all media would have to show two negative PCR tests before departing their home country and would face twice-daily tests after arriving in Japan. 

Journalists will have to sign a “pledge” agreeing to conduct themselves according to the third edition of the Committee’s “Playbook,” set to be released later this month. Their movements will also be heavily restricted for their first 14 days in the country, according to Japan Today

Reporters will be tracked via GPS in order to ensure their compliance with COVID measures, “We can use the GPS and if they’re going to places outside the business destinations, that will become very apparent…After 14 days they can engage in the normal media activity and coverage,” said Muto, 

It was unclear whether GPS tracking would apply to the more than 70,000 athletes, organizers, and sporting organizations accompanying them, or whether it would persist beyond the 14-day pseudo hotel quarantine period. 

Japan has already barred overseas fans from attending the Olympics. It has yet to be determined whether Japanese residents will be allowed to spectate the events. 

Seiko Hashimoto, Tokyo 2020 Chief, said at an Executive Board meeting “To make sure that people don’t go to places other than the places where they are registered to go, we will use GPS to strictly manage their behaviour,” according to AFP.

Hashimoto said the number of hotels available to the media will be constricted from 350 to 150 in order to better kettle the group’s obedience. 

Reporters who break the rules will face having their press pass revoked and will be deported, “If any violations are found, measures such as suspension or deprivation of accreditation and deportation proceedings will be strictly applied,” said Muto. 

Daily Mail says 6,000 reporters are expected to attend the event from around the world, and “have been told to provide a detailed list of areas they will visit for their first two weeks in Japan, such as sports venues and hotels.”

According to data from Google, Japan, a country with a population of 126 million people, has suffered 768,000 positive PCR tests since the pandemic began last year, and 13,801 deaths associated with COVID-19. 

Daily positive PCR tests were at a low in March of this year at slightly less than 1,200 per day. Despite the country’s remarkably low fatality rate, that statistic reached a high of more than 7,000 per day in early May before trailing off to less than 2,500 per day in June, according to data from Worldometers.

According to Reuters, the country’s vaccination rate is less than 8 percent with a total of more than 19 million single doses being reported as administered. 

  • Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.

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