(ATR) Athletes will be required to be tested for Covid-19 prior to departure from their respective countries and again upon arrival for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
"We as the organizing committee thinks each athlete, before the departure from each home country, we’d like to ask them to take the test and then upon entry into the country we want them to be tested," said Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto, addressing media on Wednesday following a second coordination meeting on devising coronavirus countermeasures for the Games.
"We would like the national government to come up with a procedure and mechanism, however we still have a lot of issues to overcome depending upon the country," he added. "The reliability of the testing is still an issue depending upon the country."
Athletes would likely be required to provide documentation of a negative test, administered within 72 hours or less before departure from their respective countries, upon entry into Japan.
"As we talk about PCR [nasal swab] tests, the accuracy of the test may not be uniform," Muto said. "We have a lot of things that we have to overcome."
Muto asked for cooperation from the IOC, IPC, IFs and the respective national Olympic committees regarding strict implementation of the procedures prior to departure for Japan, in addition to protocol related to individual pre-Games training camps.
Testing procedures and basic principles of securing a safe environment for athletes at next summer’s Games was the primary focus of Wednesday’s meeting, which was also attended by representatives of the national and Tokyo Metropolitan Governments. The second of five planned domestic countermeasures meetings centered around protecting athletes, as well as citizens, comes one day prior to Tokyo officials convening virtually with the IOC Coordination Commission on Thursday and Friday.
It was emphasized that all possible countermeasures proposed and decisions taken were by no means final, and everything is still up for discussion and study by the relevant parties.
The establishment of a system that would enable athletes to participate in training and competitions during a possible 14-day quarantine period was also put on the table. However, it was noted that a detailed review with the IOC, IPC, NOCs and IFs is required in arriving at concrete decisions.
Five detailed documents outlining procedures and protocol relating to the testing and athlete safety measures were provided to media prior to Muto’s news conference. The Japanese sports leader clarified that guidelines established pertain not only to athletes, but also supporting staff such as coaches, trainers, training partners and doctors. Games stakeholders and media will be dealt with at future gatherings.
Muto was asked about a recent phone conversation between newly appointed Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga and IOC president Thomas Bach.
"I heard it was a very amicable discussion," Muto responded. "They just exchanged greetings and shared their opinion that they both want to have a successful Games in Tokyo."
Muto was also asked how positive tests among athletes at Games time might be addressed.
"We have to establish a system to capture the information about the positivity and what kind of healthcare systems we need for positive cases," he responded. "For individuals or team sports, the countermeasures might or might not be different. We need to consider the uniqueness of each sport, testing and how to address the result. We need to consult with the IOC to further discuss this matter."
Muto also touched upon various transportation related procedures, while noting that it is unlikely athletes would be prohibited from utilizing public transportation.
"It is not realistic for us to consider not using public transportation by athletes because they will have to go to additional areas and we are going to discuss how to do it when it is necessary," he said.
"We believe that it is necessary to insure their safety and security, not only while using transportation procured by Tokyo 2020, but also transportation arranged by local governments at pre-Games camps.
"We will also take necessary infection prevention measures while referring to guidelines of the Japan Bus Association, in order to be able to provide athletes where they can participate in the Games with piece of mind."
Muto also addressed pre-Games camps that may be arranged individually by respective NOCs in cooperation with local Japanese governments.
"We believe and we stated at the meeting that there needs to be a decision-making process that involves the relevant prefectures and countries, as well as Tokyo 2020, the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee.
Muto emphasized that decisions taken Wednesday were definitively not final. He added that an interim report with further details and decisions will be established in December.
Written and reported by Brian Pinelli
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