Daily Athlete Testing Among New COVID-19 Countermeasures For Tokyo Olympics

With cases rising in Japan, the coronavirus countermeasures for the Tokyo Olympic Games have been enhanced.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the Tokyo Organizing Committee (Tokyo 2020), the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Government of Japan released a joint statement on Wednesday morning announcing the new measures with 86 days to go until the opening of the Games.

“The five parties will continue to deploy all possible COVID-19 countermeasures and place the highest priority on safety for the sake of all participants, including the athletes, and the Japanese public who will be playing host to the Games,” the statement reads.

These developments come a few days after Japan entered its third state of emergency on Sunday.

The COVID-19 countermeasures included in the Tokyo 2020 Playbooks, originally published in February, have been updated in order to address the emergence of new coronavirus strains and the evolving situation of the pandemic in Japan.

One of the most notable updates is the addition of daily testing for athletes (though the wording does include “in principle”). The original version had stated that athletes would be tested at least every four days in Tokyo.

The new measures are as follows (via the IOC press release):

  • All participants are required to take two COVID-19 tests before their flight to Japan.
  • In principle, athletes and all those in close proximity with athletes will be tested daily to minimise the risk of undetected positive cases that could transmit the virus. The dates and times will be set in line with the sports events and schedule.
  • All other Games participants will be tested daily for three days after their arrival. After the first three days and throughout their stay, they will be tested regularly, based on the operational nature of their role and level of contact with athletes.
  • All Games participants must, in principle, only follow the activities they have outlined in their activity plan. They must minimise contact within one metre of Games participants who have already been in Japan for more than 14 days, and Japanese residents.
  • All Games participants must, in principle, exclusively use dedicated Games vehicles, and they are not allowed to use public transport.
  • All Games participants must, in principle, eat only in the limited locations where COVID-19 countermeasures are in place, including catering facilities at Games venues, their accommodation’s restaurant, and their rooms, using room service or food delivery.
  • Close contacts are defined as those who have prolonged contact (for 15 minutes or more) with a person who has a confirmed positive COVID-19 test, within one metre, without wearing a face mask. This is particularly applicable when such contact happens in enclosed spaces such as hotel rooms or vehicles. Cases will be confirmed by the Japanese health authorities.

“Tokyo and Japan have accepted the unprecedented challenge of organising the first postponed Olympic and Paralympic Games in history,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.

“We thank them for their great work in this respect and, as partners, we understand the great responsibility that everyone attending the Games must accept so that all participants and the Japanese population remain safe. This is why we have created the Playbooks, based on science and the best medical and event expertise available to us.”

The IOC release also says that a decision regarding spectator capacity for the Games will be made in June, following the government’s general guidance. In early March it was announced that only domestic spectators would be allowed to attend the Games.

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Breaking Bad News
7 days ago

Will the US swim team be allowed to hold a training camp in Japan prior?

Greg Brance
7 days ago

The US should step-up and offer COVID vaccines to all participants in the 2021 Olympics before China does.

Troyy
Reply to  Greg Brance
7 days ago

China already did that more than a month ago.

rjfinsl
7 days ago

Really? Even when the CDC and WHO themselves have come out in the last two months and stated what a hot mess all these PCR tests are and the extremely high rate of false positives they give off? Never ever have non-symptomatic persons in any prior pandemic been subject to this type of rigor or counted as a “case” for a given illness and especially one that is such a non-threat to the young. It is not March 2020 anymore. We have data now, but facts are less importance than appearance in the new age. I sympathize with the athletes who will get a test result, miss their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity on this stage, and then be told the next day… Read more »

Swimmer
Reply to  rjfinsl
7 days ago

It’s straight up misleading to say it’s odd to count non-symptomatic individuals as cases when they are potentially very infectious. We’re a year into the pandemic which lets us know that people not experiencing symptoms can and do spread COVID.

PCR tests are also highly accurate, unlike other types of tests you might be thinking of. Allowing athletes to spread COVID to other athletes could leave many with long term symptoms that ruin their future careers. This seems like a non brainer in terms of minimizing risks to Japan, the host country, and the athletes participating in the Olympics.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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