Foreign journalists covering the Tokyo Olympics must agree to be tracked via GPS for 14 days after arriving in Japan or lose access to the games, a media watchdog group, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), reported Wednesday.
“To make sure that people don't go to places other than the places where they are registered to go, we will use GPS to strictly manage their behavior,” Tokyo Olympics President Seiko Hashimoto said in a press conference on June 8, according to the IFJ and other media outlets.
Olympics officials will require reporters to enable location tracking functions on their phones and then provide the resulting data if requested. Japanese journalists are not subject to the requirements.
Foreign reporters must also register if they wish to travel to locations within Japan that are outside of the games and must not use public transportation.
“In case of a breach of the rules, we will revoke media accreditation,” said Hashimoto.
After 14 days the reporters can travel without restrictions. This year the Olympics run 16 days from the opening ceremony on the evening of July 23 to the closing ceremonies the evening of Aug. 8.
Although at the same conference, the CEO of the games, Toshiro Muto, said the restrictions were not relevant to freedom of the press concerns, the IFJ disagreed.
“The implementation of such precaution denies journalists their right to privacy and limits the freedom of the press,” the group said in a statement about the restrictions.
“The IFJ urges the Olympic Organizing Committee to repeal this regulation and discuss alternative ways of maintaining the safety of all attendees with journalists and their unions,” it added.
Delays and restrictions from COVID-19 have cost this year’s Olympics millions of dollars, but Japanese officials have pushed ahead with the games despite facing backlash from critics who say they should be canceled.
In recent months, Japan has increased vaccination efforts, extended a state of emergency to a total of nine prefectures and approved the Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines.