Tokyo 2020 organisers put athletes at heart of principle Covid-19 countermeasures

Coordination team agree on key measures in interim report, including fast-track entry for athletes as basics of Games' coronavirus protocol, with vaccine not taken into account

By Shintaro Kano

Athletes competing at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2021 will be tested at least once every four days and traced throughout the duration of their stay in Japan - at their host town, the athletes' village, and competition venues, using aids like smartphone apps.

Those are among the key Covid-19 countermeasures for Tokyo 2020 that were laid out in an interim report published on Wednesday (2 December) with a singular focus - the safety and security of the athletes.

A coordination panel led by the Games organising commmitee and the Japanese and Tokyo metropolitan governments summarised six meetings' worth of measures, which also included a fast track for athletes that would waive their two-week quarantine, allowing for seamless entry and exit from Japan.

The agreed principles will apply in addition to the must-haves in tackling the coronavirus: mask wearing, two-meter social distancing, hand sanitizing, and ventilation.

Games don't hinge on vaccine

"All the parties recognize the grave importance of the coronavirus countermeasures and I expected there to be certain challenges", Tokyo 2020 CEO Muto Toshiro told reporters.

"But I think the talks have been a lot more fruitful than anything I ever imagined. Now we need to iron out the details of the principles we have agreed on".

Muto said future meetings will be held on a need-to basis given the fluidity of the global pandemic, and that costs hopefully will be crunched within the year.

He also stated that the protocol does not hinge on vaccination - not yet, anyway.

"This interim report has been put together on the premise that there will not be a vaccine", he said. "If vaccination becomes a realistic option, then we will start to think about formulating it into our plans".

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