It sounds like an attack on freedom of the press, but it is based on equal treatment.

Foreign journalists traveling to the Tokyo Olympics in July and August must be tracked using their cell phone's GPS data for the first 14 days in Japan.

With this, the organizers want to ensure that the paths of foreign journalists in the country can be reconstructed should infections with the coronavirus occur.

Patrick Welter

Correspondent for business and politics in Japan, based in Tokyo.

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    This would also make it possible to track where they were and who they might have spoken to.

    GPS data allow a fairly precise localization of cell phones via satellite positioning.

    The measure affects not only journalists, but also athletes, supervisors and association officials.

    The managing director of the local preparatory committee, Toshiro Muto, assured journalists in Tokyo that the organizers would not use the technical possibilities to constantly monitor the foreign visitors.

    But the point is to make sure that visitors abide by the rules.

    Not just for Olympic guests

    The background to this is that the guests are exempted from the 14-day quarantine obligation that generally applies to travelers.

    In return, for the first 14 days of their stay they have to indicate in a kind of schedule where they want to be and when.

    The use of public transport or shopping in supermarkets or shops is prohibited for visitors during this time.

    Japan not only imposes the obligation to be tracked by GPS during the first 14 days on the Olympic guests.

    Japanese or foreigners resident in the country who currently have to go into quarantine for 14 days after entering the country are also obliged to allow GPS tracking.

    In this respect, Olympic guests are not placed in a worse position than other immigrants.

    During the pandemic, Japan had long refrained from verifying compliance with quarantine rules through tracking via cell phone data. As recently as March of this year, the government introduced a program to ward off virus variants that enables spatial tracking via cell phone. Since then, travelers have been obliged to load and activate this program.