Special athlete quarantine measures mooted for Tokyo Olympics
Japan could relax immigration rules for athletes planning to compete at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, according to Toshiro Muto, the chief executive of the organising committee.
As things stand, under rules designed to address the coronavirus pandemic, competitors face having to quarantine for 14 days ahead of the games.
However, it has been proposed to the Japanese government that athletes be allowed to train and prepare for their events during the period in question.
Speaking yesterday after a meeting of a task force considering countermeasures against Covid-19, Muto said: “We have to consider the uniqueness of the athletes and also their activities.”
The pandemic has already forced the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to be postponed by a year to July-August 2021, and Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee, claimed this month that quarantine would be a necessary sacrifice for competitors, saying: “Of course these measures have to be fair to the athletes, but the athletes and us all have a responsibility for the health of others and the overall health situation in the world.”
He also suggested the staging of the games would benefit from rapid Covid-19 testing and the development of vaccines, while stressing the latter was not “the silver bullet.”
It is expected that athletes will be tested in their home countries and again when they arrive in Japan, but issues have still to be resolved.
Muto said: “Depending on the country, the reliability of the testing is still an issue. The accuracy of the tests may not be uniform."
Bach is attending online meetings today and tomorrow also involving officials from the local organising committee, the city of Tokyo and the Japanese government to discuss the measures that will need to be in place for the Olympics.
A report will be produced in December following talks between the IOC, national Olympic committees, sports federations and other affected parties including athletes, medical officials, broadcasters and sponsors.
Last week, John Coates, the head of the IOC coordination commission for the Tokyo Olympics, said countermeasures would be decided by the end of this year.
Bach, who spoke with new Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga on Wednesday, remains hopeful that the games will go ahead, but has refused to put a deadline on when decisions on matters such as the presence of Japanese and overseas spectators can be made.
This was echoed by Muto who said: “How we are going to decide is something we have to decide. But we haven't discussed by when we have to decide.”
Bach said this week that the return of live sport despite restrictions brought about by the pandemic should provide “confidence” in preparing for events such as the delayed Tokyo Olympics
In a message to the Olympic Movement entitled ‘Olympism and Corona II’, he wrote: “What we can see now is that sport is widely recognised as an essential factor in fighting the pandemic, which still persists in many countries. Sport is also accepted as an integral part of the solution for the crisis recovery, which is underway in other countries.”