Olympics Qualifiers Must Sign Waiver Acknowledging COVID Risks; IOC Freed of Responsibility

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Olympics Qualifiers Must Sign Waiver Acknowledging COVID Risks; IOC Freed of Responsibility

A health and safety waiver for athletes participating in the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer includes an acknowledgement of the risk of COVID-19.

The waivers included updated language that refers specifically to athletes being aware of the risk of contracting COVID-19 at the Games and indemnifying the IOC from responsibility over it. A copy of the waiver was obtained by Yahoo Sports and reads:

“I agree that I participate in the Games at my own risk and own responsibility, including any impact on my participation to and/or performance in the Games, serious bodily injury or even death raised by the potential exposure to health hazards such the transmission of COVID-19 and other infectious disease or extreme heat conditions while attending the Games.”

The wording of the waiver has drawn concern during an IOC athletes panel meeting, and IOC president Thomas Bach has acknowledged health concerns that many athletes harbor.

It’s just another issue of many stacking up against the Olympics. The U.S. State Department has issued a Do Not Travel Advisory for Japan as coronavirus cases continue to escalate there and it remains under a state of emergency. One of Japan’s leading newspapers last week came out against staging the Games. Questions over access to vaccines for athletes are being wrestled with in every country where it’s an option.

COVID-19 cases in Japan are finally starting to fall after a peak in mid-May, but the country is still experiencing a seven-day average of more than 3,500 new cases per day as of Sunday. Just over two percent of the population has been vaccinated. The concerns are two-fold, both of athletes contracting the disease in Tokyo and seeding outbreaks globally, and of foreign athletes potentially bringing new cases or variants to Japan.

The IOC is pledging to have effective countermeasures in place via its playbooks for participants. It says that the waiver is an effort at transparency about the risks and requirements involved in hosting the Games during a pandemic.

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