Tokyo organisers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have provided the first glimpse of how the Tokyo Games will function during a pandemic, releasing a series of guidelines in a COVID “playbook” while promising a safe Olympic and Paralympic Games in the northern hemisphere summer.
But the pages of the first book are light on detail, with the IOC and local organising committee painting with a deliberate broad brush as they try to convince sceptics that the world’s biggest multi-sport event, already postponed once, can avoid being a super-spreader event as tens of thousands of athletes, officials and media travel to Japan.
Tokyo organisers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have released the first guidelines for the Games in a COVID “playbook”.
Even so, it’s a significant document which outlines a timeline that begins 14 days before travelling to Tokyo, arrival in the city, the experience during the Games and subsequent departure. More details will be released in updated playbooks as the July Games draw closer, each targeting different groups of attendees.
The first playbook is aimed at delegates of international sporting federations, judges and technical officials and includes pre-departure testing, use of a smartphone app for contact tracing, testing on arrival, testing during the stay and constant use of face masks.
It also says anyone in venues should only clap athletes, not cheer or shout, to avoid any extra possibility of spreading virus particles. It will, if nothing else, be the most polite Olympics yet held.
Specific advice for athletes has yet to be released, while Games operation director Pierre Ducrey told a press briefing that the first document and subsequent playbooks would be nimble and could change depending on the COVID environment closer to the Games.
He said the Games were running on the assumption a vaccine was not in play but any athletes or stakeholders who were able to be vaccinated as per their country’s stipulated timeline would be of significant benefit.
“For all Games participants, there will be some conditions and constraints that will require flexibility and understanding,” Ducrey said. “We are providing the main directions at this stage but naturally don’t
have all the final details yet.
“We will make sure all the information needed is shared as quickly as possible to ensure
we are fully prepared to protect all those coming to and residing in Japan during the Tokyo 2020 Games.”
Tokyo officials would not speculate what would happen if accredited participants violated the rules but said there would be a ‘procudere in place’ for those caught out. Ducrey said all stakeholders would have to be responsible for their own plans and ensure they followed the most recent rules.
Given the contents of the first playbook, it stands to be a solitary Games. Participants are told to avoid social interaction whenever possible and to stay clear of public transport, using only official Games transport.
The rules are slowly being revealed for those travelling to the Tokyo Games.Credit:Getty
Many answers are yet to be provided but those targeted in the first playbook must plan early and have a negative test certificate and present a detailed activity plan for their first 14 days in Tokyo. The negative test must be taken within 72 hours of departure.
They will also have to use an app to monitor and detail their health for 14 days before travel and prepare a list of anyone who they will be in close contact with during their stay in Japan.
Accredited participants must take a COVID test on arrival in Japan and be prepared to move quickly through the aiport en route to their accommodation. Details for athletes remain cloudy but they are likely to be required to remain in the village during their stay and arrive no more than five days before competition.
There would be regular tests during the stay for accredited participants and anyone with symptoms would be expected to test and isolate immediately. The IOC did confirm that athletes would not require to quarantine before arrival but instead record a detailed health log and present a series of negative tests.
More information for athletes will be forthcoming over the next week, which will come as a huge relief for sports and teams attempting to plan their lead-up to a Games that will be regarded a minor miracle if it is staged without an outbreak.
The issue for Australian attendees may not be going to Tokyo but returning home, with two-week hotel quarantine compulsory at this stage.
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