Govt to allow foreign pro athletes, artists to enter Japan on exceptional basis

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Diet Building in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, Japan.

The Japanese government plans to allow foreign professional athletes and artists, who have been unable to enter the country due to border control measures against the novel coronavirus, to enter the country on an exceptional basis once the state of emergency has been lifted on Sunday.

Athletes will also be allowed to attend practices during their 14-day quarantine period after entering Japan.

Since mid-January, the government has in principle suspended all new entry by foreign nationals in a travel ban which will remain in place in light of virus variants even after the state of emergency is lifted. However, an exception to the ban will be made for professional athletes on the condition that they take thorough measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

During the two-week quarantine period, athletes will be first allowed to practice alone, according to sources. They will be allowed to practice with other athletes after they have received negative PCR tests.

The Immigration Service Agency has previously permitted entry into Japan in the event of “exceptional circumstances.” In granting admission to athletes, the agency has considered professional sports’ contribution to the “public interest.”