Yukio Edano believes Thomas Bach can participate in the Olympics remotely ©Getty Images

Japan's opposition leader believes International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach should be banned from attending Tokyo 2020, along with others who are not "essential" for the Games.

Yukio Edano, the head of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said the German, world leaders and other VIPs could take part in the Olympics remotely.

He argued that only athletes, referees and support staff should be allowed to attend while warning that Tokyo 2020 could cause an "explosion" of new coronavirus infections.

Edano's words come amid high levels of opposition to Tokyo 2020 going ahead in Japan, due to fears the Games could be a COVID-19 "super-spreader" event.

The 57-year-old is due to challenge Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, and his ruling Liberal Democratic Party, at this year's Japanese General Election which is due on or before October 22.

The success or failure of Tokyo 2020 will likely be a key campaign topic as politicians scramble for votes.

"We shouldn't let anyone into Japan other than those who are absolutely essential for the events," Edano said to Bloomberg.

"That means athletes, referees and support staff.

"Leaders and President Bach can take part in the Opening Ceremony remotely. 

"It's perfectly simple in this day and age."

Thomas Bach is due to arrive in Japan in the middle of July ©Getty Images
Thomas Bach is due to arrive in Japan in the middle of July ©Getty Images  

Bach said yesterday that he would not travel to Japan this month as had previously been suggested.

He instead plans to arrive in the "middle of July", with Tokyo scheduled to hold the IOC Session and Executive Board meetings before the Olympics, which are due to open on July 23.

The IOC, Tokyo 2020 and Suga have insisted they are pressing ahead with the Games, which are scheduled to run until August 8, despite the fears among the local population.

Tokyo remains under a state of emergency after a spike in infections, with more than 2,000 cases recorded in Japan yesterday.

Vaccine roll-out has also been slower than in other developed countries, which has exacerbated anxiety.

The programme is picking up speed which has seen opposition to the Games decrease, although it remains at a significant level.

The IOC claimed this week that the number of athletes set to compete at Tokyo 2020 who have either been vaccinated or are "in the process" of being inoculated is now "over and above 80 per cent".

International fans have already been banned, and a decision on Japanese spectators is due to be made by the end of the month.

"If you hold the Olympics, people will move around, everyone will relax," Edano said. 

"Unfortunately, there is sure to be an explosion of infections."