Toned Down Celebrations, Strict Hygiene Rules to be Enforced at Tokyo Olympics

Tokyo 202One - Photo Courtesy: Tokyo 2020

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Strict rules on hygiene and social distancing, and toned down celebrations are among the rules outlined in a playbook for athletes, coaches and officials at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, according to a report by Insidethegames.

The playbook, which was supplied to Insidethegames, includes limits on celebrations as a public health measure, though athlete expression has come under fire in the leadup to the Tokyo Games from a political context.

The full book can be viewed here. It includes an opening letter, signed by Olympic swimmer Kristy Coventry, the Chair of the IOC’s Athletes Commission and a member of the Coordination Commission for the Tokyo Olympics.

The Tokyo playbook outlines measures around COVID-19, with strict rules on how to limit the spread of the virus before and after entering Japan, emphasizing personal responsibility by athletes and coaches. Some of the virus pre-screening will involve national governing bodies, many of whom conduct pre-Olympic camps and can thus control exposure before travel to Tokyo. Each national Olympic/Paralympic committee must appoint a COVID-19 liaison officer as the delegation’s key contact.

More details about the testing regimen are set to be released by the IOC in April.

Among the mandates are adherence to contract tracing measures and requirements for testing if an athlete displays symptoms or comes into contact with someone testing positive, mask wearing, hand washing, disinfection of surfaces, limiting of physical contact and regular testing. The playbook outlines a length-of-stay period, with athletes arriving no earlier than five days before their scheduled event and leaving two days after.

It includes the proviso to “avoid shouting, cheering and singing – find other ways to show support or celebrate during competition, such as clapping.” Loud vocalizations are shown to release more respiratory droplets, hence an increased risk of transmission of COVID-19 if someone is unwittingly and asymptomatically carrying the virus.

The book also outlines possible punishments, including expulsion from the games, if protocols are repeatedly violated.

On vaccines, the book points out that vaccines will not be required for participation.

“When vaccinations are made available to a broader public, the IOC calls for Olympic and Paralympic teams to be vaccinated – given their role as ambassadors of their NOCs and NPCs given the role of sport “to promote safe sport as a contributor to the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities”, as recently stated in a UN resolution, which was adopted by consensus in the UN General Assembly. This resolution also highlighted the importance of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Therefore, the IOC will work with the NOCs to encourage and assist their athletes, officials and stakeholders to get vaccinated in their home countries, in line with national immunization guidelines, before they go to Japan. This is to contribute to the safe environment of the Games, but also out of respect for the Japanese people, who should be confident that everything is being done to protect not only the participants, but also the Japanese people themselves.