TOKYO – Social media has been abuzz about pictures and videos showing a man believed to be International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach strolling in Tokyo’s posh Ginza district despite tight coronavirus restrictions imposed on athletes and officials for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
His outing Monday, a day after the 17-day Tokyo Olympics ended, came despite requests for residents in the capital to refrain from nonessential and nonurgent outings amid the resurgence of infections. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has placed Tokyo under a state of coronavirus emergency through Aug. 31.
A Twitter post said, “I encountered President Bach at Ginza!!” with a video of a person who appears to be Bach, wearing a face mask and polo shirt, responding to calls to have photos taken by other strollers on a Ginza shopping street.
When asked about Bach’s strolling in Ginza, Japan’s Olympic minister Tamayo Marukawa said at a press conference on Tuesday, “What constitutes a nonessential and nonurgent outing is up to” Bach himself.
Rules for Olympic-affiliated officials, known as the “playbook,” state that for the first 14 days after entering Japan, their activities are restricted to what they have outlined in their activity plans, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said at a separate press conference.
He said Bach arrived in Japan on July 8 and his stay in the country has already passed 14 days.
During the Olympics, two judoka from Georgia, silver medalists Vazha Margvelashvili and Lasha Shavdatuashvili, were ejected from the games and stripped of accreditation for leaving the athletes’ village to go sightseeing in violation of COVID-19 protocols.