How the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is being held during the pandemic: What we know
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the country to declare a third state of emergency and rising public opposition, organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games say the global sporting event is still on, arguing that it will serve as a “symbol of resilience” during an otherwise bleak time.
The country’s vaccine rollout is starting to speed up, but critics fear the games will trigger a superspreader event in the capital — one that pushes the local health care system beyond its breaking point.
Organizers, however, insist the sporting event can be held safely with virus protocols in place.
What will the Tokyo Games look like? How many domestic fans will be allowed to attend in person? What virus protocols will athletes, staff, volunteers and media personnel be expected to follow during their stay in Japan?
The situation is changing daily and some questions don’t yet have answers, but here’s what we know so far:
What are the virus protocols for Olympic participants when they enter Japan?
All of the more than 15,000 athletes slated to compete in the games will need to be tested twice for COVID-19 before boarding a flight to Japan, and tested daily after their arrival, according to the latest playbook, which outlines coronavirus measures for athletes and other participants.
However, so that they can practice, they will not be asked to self-isolate for 14 days after landing in the country — a requirement for others who enter Japan from overseas.
Upon landing, athletes will be required to submit a comprehensive daily itinerary of what they plan to do, where they intend to go and how they will get there.
They will also be required to stay at the Olympic village for five days before they start competing and two days after.
Athletes will not be allowed to use public transportation unless their event is held at a distant venue, but they will be allowed to eat meals either at restaurants where they are staying, through room services and deliveries to their rooms or by using catering services at event venues.
Organizers said coaches and staff would be asked to follow most of the same protocols, though the details haven’t yet been announced.
A third version of the playbook will be published in June, less than a month before the opening ceremony is set to be held.
Will vaccinations be mandatory for athletes?
No, but COVID-19 vaccines will be administered to athletes who wish to be inoculated beforehand.
In early May, Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), announced that the organization had signed a nonbinding agreement with Pfizer Inc. to provide vaccines for all athletes competing in the Tokyo 2020 Games.
While vaccines will not be mandatory, Bach said Wednesday that he expects more than 80% of the temporary residents at the athlete’s village — which is located on the Harumi waterfront district in Tokyo’s Chuo Ward — will be inoculated.
Will volunteers attend the games? If so, what are their protocols?
About 80,000 volunteers signed up last year to volunteer during the Tokyo Games. It’s unclear how many of them will be tested, but organizers said a number could be screened depending on the “nature of their role” and their “proximity to athletes.”
To date, about 10,000 volunteers have quit, most likely due to fears of COVID-19.
It’s estimated that about 1,000 pulled out in response to sexist gaffes by Yoshiro Mori, who eventually stepped down in February as president of the Tokyo Organizing Committee.
Will foreign media be allowed to cover the games?
Yes. The protocols are similar to what are required for athletes, coaches and staff. They need to be tested twice before boarding their flights and be tested every day for the first three days upon arrival, according to the playbook for press.
But on June 8, Tokyo organizing chief Seiko Hashimoto said overseas journalists will be monitored using GPS to ensure they don’t visit destinations that they have not registered in advance. Those who violate the protocols will lose their media accreditation, she said.
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