German athletes call on IOC to improve quarantine conditions for positive cases: “Fresh air is missing, they feel abandoned”.

Japan has registered record numbers of cases of the new coronavirus, but Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga assured that this increase is not related to the presence of athletes, leaders and journalists at the Olympic Games.

The German Olympic team's flags and banners hang at an apartment building in the athletes' village for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, in Tokyo, Japan, July 22, 2021. REUTERS/Naoki Ogura
The German Olympic team's flags and banners hang at an apartment building in the athletes' village for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, in Tokyo, Japan, July 22, 2021. REUTERS/Naoki Ogura

TOKYO - German athletes this Friday called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to improve the situation of those forced into quarantine during the Tokyo 2020 Games.

“Athletes in quarantine on site report a lack of supply of basic necessities. In the current quarantine hotel, for example, there is an insufficient provision of fresh air. The food supply is neither rich nor balanced and does not meet the specific nutritional requirements of high-performance athletes”, Athleten Deutschland, the umbrella organization for German athletes, wrote in a statement.

“There is no question that the strict quarantine requirements must be adhered to at the Games following a confirmed positive coronavirus test. The protection of everyone’s health must be the priority at all times. The Games must not accelerate the infection rate domestically, nor must they become a global super spreader event. Athletes fully understand this. However, they may expect to spend the mandatory quarantine under appropriate conditions.”

Japan is registering record numbers of covid-19 infections, with figures exceeding 10,000 per day. However, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said there is no link between the Olympic Games and the increase in cases of the coronavirus.

“Since we have imposed virus-curbing measures, such as cutting the flow of people (in public) and stricter border controls to prevent the spread of the virus by foreign visitors, I think there is none,” Suga told reporters when asked if there are any indications that the holding of the Games a factor behind the spike in new daily infection cases.

Still, said Kyodo News, Suga “encouraged people to watch the games at home to avoid the greater risk of contracting the virus by gathering in groups to watch the games, including at locations such as sports bars”.

The complaint of Athleten Deutschland to the IOC includes all kinds of details about the daily life of the athletes forced to quarantine at the Games.

“Athletes who have resumed training activities in their rooms have to clean their sweaty clothes in the sink, which hardly dry afterwards. They feel left alone, having to obtain a lot of information on their own. It is unclear to them what the exact procedure of quarantine is and what steps have to be taken after it is over. We have been told of language barriers in communication with medical staff”.

“The athlete community does not expect accommodation in luxury hotels. However, the athletes can reasonably expect that the organizers of the Games will provide adequate quarantine conditions that meet the legitimate physical and psychological needs of high-performance athletes”, the press release added.

“Certainly, the responsible National Olympic Committees and Federations are currently doing everything they can for athletes under quarantine. In retrospect, however, it is unfortunate that the IOC apparently neglected the quarantine conditions in the planning of the Games, even though they had been known for a long time in advance. It appears as if it did not use its capabilities to implement acceptable solutions with those in charge.”