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Olympics-Tokyo organisers to cancel water polo test event

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Staff members work next to the swimming pool of the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, in Tokyo

TOKYO (Reuters) -Tokyo Olympic organisers are expected to cancel a water polo test event scheduled for this weekend, a report said on Tuesday, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt preparations less than four months before the start of the Games.

The water polo test event will be cancelled because overseas officials are unable to come to Japan amid strict COVID-19 countermeasures, public broadcaster NHK said.

A spokeswoman for the Tokyo 2020 organising committee declined to comment.

A cancellation would be another blow for organisers just days after they restarted test events, which had been on hold due to the pandemic, for the first time in more than a year.

Japan is struggling with a nascent fourth wave in the pandemic driven by variants of the coronavirus, and the resurgence is affecting other test events as well as the torch relay.

Organisers were initially planning 18 test events in April and May, starting with wheelchair rugby April 3-4.

But the International Swimming Federation (FINA) intends to cancel its Olympic qualifiers in Tokyo for diving scheduled for April 18-23, senior Tokyo 2020 official Yasuo Mori said on Sunday, meaning two of the first three test events would not be held if the water polo event is scrapped.

The BBC reported FINA was cancelling the diving event because the organisers’ planned COVID-19 precautions “will not properly ensure” the safety of athletes.

FINA also intends to cancel its artistic swimming qualifiers scheduled for early May. Mori said organisers would hold talks with FINA this week.

Adding to organisers’ headaches, the city of Osaka has formally requested that their leg of the torch relay be cancelled as the western Japanese metropolis grapples with a spike in coronavirus infections.

Osaka saw coronavirus infections hit fresh records last week, prompting the regional government to start targeted lockdown measures for one month from Monday.

The relay is scheduled to pass through the city on April 14.

The NHK report did not say which overseas officials were not able to come for the water polo test event, which was expected to involve only Japanese athletes.

Tokyo 2020’s Mori said previously that international athletes would be present at five of the test events, including the FINA qualifiers.

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