(ATR) The third and final version of the Tokyo 2020 Playbooks for athletes and officials provides further details on testing procedures, protocols, quarantining, violations and consequences, and the important role of the COVID-19 Liaison Officers.
"These playbooks are very detailed – they incorporate the latest on science, but also the latest on sport," said IOC Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi, during a virtual news conference on Tuesday following the release of the latest edition.
"What is immensely important for us is the question of compliance – you heard us say on many occasions, what matters is not so much to have the playbooks, they are very important, but it is to respect the playbooks, respect the rules," stressed Dubi, who has recently arrived in Tokyo ahead of the Games.
IOC Olympic Games operations director Pierre Ducrey noted that either one or more COVID-19 Liaison Officers (CLOs) will be assigned to work closely with the NOCs and delegations depending upon their size. In total, some 3,000 CLOs will be on the ground and reporting to a Tokyo 2020 operations center.
"Their role is to make sure that their delegations know what they have to do at the time they have to do it – they will be here making the coordination between the organizers, the different organizations, the government if need be and the IOC," Ducrey informed.
"They really have a critical role to play and they will be working with us very closely to make sure all the COVID-related aspects are delivered in the most effective way possible."
More than 160 international and more than 200 Japanese journalists joined the one-hour news conference from Tokyo via digital channels.
Numerous questions were posed not only about athlete testing, timing and protocol, but also about the potential breach of rules and the severity of punishment for transgressions including disqualification, as well as various international media procedures and clarifications.
"What is in the playbook is a range – a range of possibilities to give an overall impression of what could happen in case of sanctions and it is also to reinforce the message that playbooks are here to be followed – no transgressions," Dubi said.
Dubi confirmed that rules infractions – whether committed by athletes or stakeholders – will be handled by an IOC Disciplinary Commission. He noted that penalties can range from warnings to disqualification or financial sanctions.
"The Disciplinary Commission can take a number of measures, and obviously we will not speculate about which case will lead to which sanctions – this is the role of the commission and hopefully, at Games-time it will have very little work," Dubi added.
Tokyo 2020 spokesperson Masa Takaya advised media that operational and procedural questions, despite some journalists expressing urgency for answers, will be addressed at a later time.
Nakamura on Athlete Procedures in Tokyo
Tokyo 2020 operations chief Nakamura Hidemasa offered insight into additional specifics and regulations, notably about testing and potential positive cases, that athletes must adhere to.
"We want to be a help to athletes – we want to make sure we are not making a negative impact on athletes competing at the Game," Nakamura said.
Page 60 of the 70-page version three playbook notes that athletes and officials will undergo daily screening testing with a quantitative saliva antigen test. If a positive case results, a saliva PCR will be taken from the same sample. Results are expected to be confirmed within 12 hours.
If that test is positive or inconclusive, a confirmatory nasopharyngeal PCR test is conducted with results between three to five hours.
"Should we come across any cases of positive, we’ll ask them to test again at a special quarantine clinic of the Olympic Games," Nakamura said.
If required, athletes will be placed under quarantine in a dedicated area of the Olympic village.
For other attendants at the Games, screening will be conducted either every day, every four, or every seven days depending upon the operational nature of their role and level of contact with athletes. Stakeholders are not permitted to stay at unofficial private hotels.
Nakamura said there will also be a Coronavirus Support Unit and Advisory Expert Group in place to assist with guidance about technical issues.
"It will be a one team effort to make sure we are smoothly running and operating the Games," Nakamura said.
About version three of the playbook, the Tokyo 2020 official said: "We hope this gives much more clarity for athletes for them to feel safe and the people of Japan can also feel confident about a safe running of the Games."
Test Events and Athlete Qualifications
Having also recently arrived in Tokyo, IOC Olympic Games sport director Kit McConnell provided an update to media, noting that while it is now 38 days to the opening ceremony, it is just 36 to the start of competition.
McConnell noted that over the past eight months, IFs have staged over 430 major international events with over 5,500 athletes in all 33 sports.
"They’ve built very robust, very comprehensive COVID countermeasures in regards to each of their respective sports, so we’ve built huge international experience from the IF’s, but equally across the athletes and they’ve shown their confidence in the planning," McConnell said.
McConnell also pointed out that 13 test events have been held in Tokyo in April and May.
He advised that cooperation with IFs continues to determine sport specific countermeasures and how positive cases will be handled. The IOC sport director noted that all of these procedures will be finalized and made public over the coming weeks.
Finally, McConnell noted that more than 9,000, more than 80-percent of all athletes are now qualified for Tokyo with the deadline being June 29.
It was noted that the final version of the playbooks focusing on the media will be released tomorrow and online via the Tokyo 2020 website.
Written and reported by Brian Pinelli
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