The main topic of the call was the preparations for Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022,  including COVID-19 countermeasures, qualification ahead of the Games, and the athletes’ playbook.

IOC President Thomas Bach discussed how preparations for the Olympic Games were progressing, and how athletes’ safety will be kept as the top priority.

The IOC AC and IOC Directors, and the WADA and ITA Directors General, also answered questions from athlete representatives in a Q&A session.

Foreword by Kirsty Coventry

I would like to start by thanking everyone who took part in the global call on Monday 1 February. Your participation in these calls is vital and mutually beneficial as we aim to keep the athlete community updated with the latest information. This truly is a unique time – we see positivity in the return of events in a number of sports, but also realise that challenging times are still upon us in many regions and for many athletes.

I would also like to thank everyone who helped with promoting the athlete expression survey, and the 3,547 athletes who participated within NOCs and IFs, with those athletes covering 185 NOCs globally and all 41 Olympic sports. Since the survey closed on 7 January, analysis of the responses has been underway, and we will discuss the results and collate these with all the other positions we have received from NOC and IF ACs once these are ready.

As previously outlined, to ensure a robust process supported by some of the best experts in this field, the IOC AC has engaged with FORS, the Swiss Centre of Expertise in Social Science. FORS implements large-scale national and international surveys; offers data and research information services to researchers and academic institutions, and conducts methodological and thematic research. Its expertise and independent feedback throughout the whole process are very important to us, to ensure that we have a very solid consultation and our methodology and survey meet the highest international standards.

On Thursday 4 February, we will also be celebrating the One Year to Go to the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and urge you and all our fellow athletes to take part in these celebrations.

Once again, I urge you all to stay safe, keep your families safe, and reach out to us with any questions you may have.

Kind regards,

Kirsty Coventry

I would also like to thank everyone who helped with promoting the athlete expression survey, and the 3,547 athletes who participated within NOCs and IFs

 

KIRSTY COVENTRY

We are fully concentrated on successfully delivering Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022. We are learning every day, and we do so by always knowing that we are fighting against this virus with an Olympic spirit.

 

IOC PRESIDENT THOMAS BACH

Preparing for the Olympic Games

As preparations continue for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 taking place this summer, IOC President Thomas Bach took the opportunity to reassure the athlete representatives on the call that it is not a matter of “whether ” the Games will be staged, but rather “how” they will be staged.

“We are fully concentrated on successfully delivering Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022. We are learning every day, and we do so by always knowing that we are fighting against this virus with an Olympic spirit.”

The IOC President concluded his remarks by speaking about vaccinations ahead of Tokyo 2020. Firstly, he reminded the athletes that they should not seek to jump the queue ahead of others who may be more in need, such as the medically vulnerable or healthcare workers, while also acknowledging that some athletes may already have been vaccinated, as per their countries’ own vaccine distribution systems. President Bach urged athletes and potential participants in the Olympic Games to accept the vaccine when it is their turn and it is offered to them, though it will not be obligatory to be vaccinated in order to participate in the Olympic Games.

Tokyo 2020 playbook

Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi and Olympic Games Operations Director Pierre Ducrey then took the floor and discussed the playbooks to be released ahead of Tokyo 2020.

These publications represent the framework which contains the basic principles that attendees will have to follow before travelling to Japan, upon entry to the country, during the Games, and when leaving for their next destination. They will provide direction for you and your teams to help plan for the months ahead.

Dubi emphasised that the playbooks will act as the official, centralised source of information for the Olympic and Paralympic Games stakeholders. He added that the first version of the NOC and Athlete Playbook (due to be released online on 7 February) will be continually updated over the coming months as the global situation relating to COVID-19 becomes clearer, with a new version in April and the final version of the playbooks available in June.

The first edition will reiterate many of the key health countermeasures currently implemented around the globe relating to personal hygiene, testing and tracing, and some travel and vaccination information. A typical journey is also mapped out for each stakeholder group which will also help those coming to Japan to picture their stay from 14 days before arrival right up to leaving the Games.

Information for spectators will be covered at a later date once a decision has been taken on spectators in the venues by the Japanese government, most likely in the spring.

The purpose of the playbooks is to ensure that athletes and other participants know the rules that will keep everyone safe, achieving the goal of prioritising the health and safety of athletes at the Games.

Anti-doping measures for Tokyo 2020

Ben Cohen, the Director General of the International Testing Agency (ITA), also joined the call and spoke to those present about the latest news around testing at the Games.

While Cohen acknowledged the impact that COVID-19 has had on anti-doping measures, he also told the attendees that over 90 per cent of out-of-competition testing activities have gone ahead as planned. While in-competition testing continues to be impacted due to the cancellation and postponement of sporting events, all other ITA activities to protect athletes and competitions remain unaffected (education programmes, therapeutic use exemptions, results management, etc.)

Preparations for Tokyo 2020 have also been the most comprehensive in history, with 33 sports reviewed and 26,000 recommendations for athletes to be tested made to the responsible testing authorities such as NADOs and International Federations (compared with seven sports reviewed and 1,500 recommendations for Rio 2016). Cohen also stressed that the ITA will follow up on the implementation of the recommendations.

It will be possible to store pre-Games test samples for up to 10 years for the first time, and the ITA plans to extend the IOC’s testing jurisdiction closer to Games-time, in order to ensure that the programme is as comprehensive and effective as possible in the lead-up to the competitions.

Q&A section

After the presentations, the floor was opened up to the athlete representatives on the call. The participants had the chance to put questions directly to the IOC President, the IOC Athletes’ Commission as well as the IOC administration, and the WADA and ITA Directors General.

Will there be information on the athlete code of conduct in the playbook?

All information on the code of conduct will be in the playbook related to each sport, along with a number of principles for all participants to adhere to. At each step, as we progress, more information and details will be shared, such as how athletes will go from the Olympic Village to the venue, for example.

The playbook for athletes and NOCs will be sent to the NOCs on 5 February, and a briefing will be held on 9 February with key stakeholders to explain the playbook and answer any questions. Afterwards, it will be published on Athlete365.

We are currently working on a policy to access Japan, including for before the Games (e.g., training camps, and sports for which athletes arrive early), and the playbook will take this into account.

What are the IOC’s thoughts on the mutations of COVID-19?

Variants are a normal occurrence with viruses. The evidence is that the vaccines are working with them, and if someone has had the misfortune of catching COVID-19 then there should still be immunity for the other variants. Also, the playbook includes considerations for all variants of the virus.

How is the IOC working with IFs to help the athletes in the qualification process?

As of today, 60 per cent of all athlete quotas are confirmed of the 11,000 total for Tokyo. Of those that remain, 15 per cent will be allocated through rankings within the sport, which leaves 25 per cent which remain to be allocated through Olympic qualification events.

A number of events are currently taking place, and we urge IFs to have Tokyo 2020 qualification events where there is fair and full participation. Ideally, all qualification will happen on the field of play wherever possible, and the qualification deadline has been pushed up until June to allow this. We realise that there are currently a lot of travel-related challenges, and we are continuing to work with IFs and NOCs to find solutions where required.

What is the IOC’s plan for vaccinations and are you collecting data on this?

Vaccines will not be mandatory either in Tokyo or at qualification events. Vaccine distribution is a national matter which varies from country to country.

As for the data, we will collect information through the Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (OCOG) health management tool. This will help capture information such as temperature levels before travel and testing. We will develop protocols and communicate these to all stakeholders to ensure clarity for data collection.

If you have any questions for the IOC AC, please get in touch at athlete365@olympics.com