Anyone travelling to Japan for the delayed 2020 Olympic Games may be forced to take out personal health insurance before being allowed in to the country.
Reports from Tokyo suggest that the Japanese government is considering the move to protect taxpayer money bing used to fund treatment for travellers who become struck down with coronavirus.
Covid-19 has been classified as a "designated infectious disease” by Japanese officials – meaning anyone would be entitled to treatment free of charge through Japan’s health system, regardless of nationality.
Authorities in Japan are concerned that the upcoming Olympic Games – which have been moved form July 24 to August 9, 2020, to July 23 to August 8, 2021 – could lead to Japanese taxpayers picking up the bill should an outbreak among competitors and visitors strike.
Japan Today reports that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party have called for: “a requirement that overseas visitors take out private insurance coverage on top of producing a negative test result for the virus.”
The report goes on to state visitors would also be required to submit: “a report on their health status and residence while in Japan,” if approved.
A source told the outlet: “For private health insurance to cover the treatment cost, either the virus needs to be reclassified or related laws must be amended.”
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It is reported that authorities are concerned following an incident back in February this year aboard a cruise ship called the Diamond Princess.
The liner was docked in Yokohama while an outbreak of the deadly virus infected 700 of the passengers and crew – with Japan picking up treatment costs.
While Koji Wada, professor at the International University of Health and Welfare who specializes in public hygiene, has warned that 288.43 million Yen (£2.08 million) has been spent treating infected overseas patients in Japan – 94 percent of overall infections, Japan Today claims.
While the length of quarantine people from different nations visiting Japan for the Olympics is being debated, it is expected that a decision on whether or not overseas visitors to the event will be permitted won’t be reached until spring next year.
Despite the Olympics being moved to summer 2021, they will still be called the "Tokyo 2020" Games for marketing and branding purposes.
It has already been forecast that the total amount insured for losses by the postponement of the 2020 Games will exceed £2 billion – although the extent of losses won't be established until after the Games are concluded.
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