IOC: ‘really solid numbers’ of vaccinations for Tokyo

(ATR) Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi says COVID-19 is the only great unknown for Beijing 2022.

(ATR) Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi conveys further details and figures concerning vaccination of athletes, while elaborating on the IOC’s efforts in terms of ensuring health and safety at the Tokyo Games.

IOC spokesperson Mark Adams confirmed that nearly 8,300 athletes either have been or are in the process of being vaccinated, about 76 percent of the 10,900 athletes headed to Tokyo. The total figure – as ascertained through the IOC’s communication with the NOCs – has risen from 74 percent over previous days.

"We continue our efforts when it comes to vaccinations – we have really solid numbers when it come to the athletes and their entourages," said Dubi, addressing media from Lausanne following day two of a three-day executive board meeting. "The process is ongoing to reach the maximum number of vaccinations."

In terms of the remaining athletes, Dubi noted that not everyone has qualified yet and some may opt not to be vaccinated.

Dubi assured that the IOC is standing ready to help should NOCs or medical personnel in Tokyo require assistance emphasizing that it is "a solidarity effort to render the Games safe and secure which is our number one priority".

"We’re doing every effort we can for the athletes, but we also encourage our NOCs and partners to work with the larger delegations so anyone who is going to Tokyo has access to vaccines," Dubi added.

Dubi was also queried about the status of potential vaccinations for volunteers and international media.

"Let’s be very clear – it’s not up to us to make a recommendation, but it is up to us to help if we can," he noted. "Who gets the shots is absolutely not up to us to decide."

However, he advised that thorough analysis is still being made in regards to who needs to gain proximity to athletes.

"We also signed an MoU with a big pharmaceutical company which is helping us with our efforts and they are also helping the Japanese side," Dubi said, referring to the IOC’s cooperation with Pfizer and BioNTech.

Dubi also informed that there has been a significant contingent of doctors, nurses and medical personnel offering their assistance for the Games, although he said he couldn’t provide a precise figure at the moment.

"Around the globe there are a network of specialists and doctors and our doctor, Doctor Richard Budgett is in contact with them – there is a lot of goodwill," Dubi noted. "It is doable because of this goodwill, whatever the number is needed.

"The final number of medical doctors and specialists, nurses and specialists – this is the work we have to do now with Tokyo 2020 and their partners. They’ll tell us and we’ll source."

Dubi confirmed that the third and final version of the Games ‘playbooks’ will be released next week, while adding that details will be updated until the Games. He addressed a question about concerns from medical experts pertaining to lack of sufficient details in the playbooks thus far.

"It will contain a lot more detail about the regime for the testing," Dubi said, referring to version three. "If remarks from our experts or any experts are made then I can tell you, we’ll look at it and find a way.

"There are no criticisms or remarks that we don’t look into. Anything that is raised we will look into and bring an answer – that is our commitment."

Dubi informed that he will travel to Tokyo next week and outlined the existing quarantine process that he, media and other stakeholders will need to adhere to.

He said he will undergo an adapted quarantine of 14 days, including three hard days confined to the hotel. The following 11 days will be with restricted movement, generally between two locations.

"These 14 days have to be respected and this is absolutely understandable, no exceptions," he said.

Beijing 2022

Virtual presentations were provided by all future Olympic Games hosts, excluding Los Angeles 2028, over the opening two days of the EB meeting.

Dubi updated media on Beijing 2022, noting that all venues are completed and previously cancelled international test events are planned to start in September with the Winter Games just eight months away.

He admitted ticketing protocol has not yet been fully established.

"We are in a fluid situation with everything around the globe and in China and we want to use the Games in Tokyo to gain as much information and testing the measures inside for when it comes to Beijing," Dubi explained.

He affirmed that everything is on course for Beijing 2022 and the only great unknown remains COVID-19 and how it might affect the athletes’ experience.

"The one thing that I’m certain about, in terms of representing Beijing and China as a winter sports destination, we are very well underway," Dubi said.

"Some of the imagery we got out of Alpine and cross-country skiing, biathlon, across all sports including speed skating, they have very comfortable venues and they will be used after the Games.

"We like to leave no stone unturned – we absolutely have no problem at this time although we are in the context of a worldwide pandemic and it will still be present at the time of Beijing, so this is unknown, this is a very fluid situation.

"If you ask what the experience will be like for the participants, it still depends on COVID-19," he said.

IOC president Thomas Bach will address media virtually following Thursday’s third and final day of the EB meeting.

Written and reported by Brian Pinelli