Olympic athletes to be allowed to practice during self-isolation period

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nao Kodaira competes in the women’s 500-meter race at the speed skating World Cup in Stavanger, Norway, in November.

Japanese athletes aiming to compete in the Beijing Games will be allowed to train during their 14-day “self-isolation period” after returning to Japan, it has been learned.

The government has strengthened border control measures against the new omicron variant of the coronavirus. However, it has told relevant sports organizations that athletes who are preparing for a qualifying trial for the Games will be allowed to train after returning to Japan if they strictly limit their activities, according to sources.

Before the tougher border control measures were introduced, athletes had been allowed to participate in training and competitions if they tested negative for three consecutive days after entering Japan. However, this rule is not currently in force, so athletes must in principle self-isolate for 14 days after entering Japan.

Athletes will be eligible for the special measures as long as they take thorough steps to prevent infection, such as completely avoiding contact with the public.

Some figure skaters are scheduled to compete in the Japan Figure Skating Championship on Dec. 23-26 in Saitama City, to select the Japanese national team for the Beijing Olympics, but some have not yet returned to Japan.

Likewise, a qualifying trial for speed skating will be held Dec. 27-30 in Nagano City, but Pyeongchang Olympics gold medalist Nao Kodaira and other top athletes are currently on an overseas tour. Concerns have been raised about the impact on their conditioning after their return to Japan.