International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach will make his first visit to Tokyo since the coronavirus pandemic hit when he leads a small delegation of officials to inspect preparations for the postponed 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games next week.
Bach and other IOC officials are set to hold talks with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga during the four-day visit, scheduled for Sunday (November 15) to Wednesday (November 18).
They will travel to the Japanese capital by private jet and will self-isolate before and after the trip to minimise the risk posed by COVID-19, IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said following a remote meeting of the Executive Board today.
Bach, has not been able to visit the Japanese capital since the coronavirus pandemic ground international travel to a halt, but World Athletics President Sebastian Coe went to Tokyo in October.
In his first engagement outside Europe amid the COVID-19 crisis, Bach will visit the National Stadium and Tokyo 2020 Athletes' Village, and hopes to speak to Japanese athletes.
He said cancellation of the Games, scheduled to open on July 23 and conclude on August 8, would not be discussed with Japanese officials during the visit.
"The message I want to deliver in Tokyo and to Japan and to the Japanese people is that we are fully committed to the safe organisation of the Games," Bach said.
Tokyo 2020 organisers and the IOC have this week been boosted by the news that a vaccine being developed by American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and BioNTech has been found to be 90 per cent effective in preventing people from getting the virus after global trials.
Bach, who has previously insisted a vaccine is not a "silver bullet" for the Games taking place, revealed the IOC was in talks with manufacturers and other health experts but claimed the organisation would not jump the queue ahead of those who need a vaccination most.
"The first wave of vaccination is - and this we are supporting very much - for the people in need, the high-risk groups," he said.
"It is for the nurses and for the medical doctors and for everybody who is keeping our societies alive.
"In this context, we will have further discussions with all the experts."
The IOC President continued to strike an optimistic tone over Tokyo 2020 going ahead next year, and claimed he was "more and more confident" that a "reasonable number of spectators" will be allowed inside venues.
"How many and under which conditions depends on the future developments," Bach said.