Athletes at the coronavirus-postponed Tokyo Olympics will face regular testing, restrictions on mingling and potential punishment for non-compliance with health rules, organisers said Wednesday as they outlined plans for holding the Games.
After months of talks, officials issued a 54-page report outlining how they believe the Games can go ahead, even if the pandemic is not under control by the new start date of July 2021.
Quarantine requirements will be waived for overseas spectators, who will also be able to use public transport, but they will have to observe rules ranging from mask-wearing and a ban on cheering to keeping their ticket stubs to help contact-tracing.
Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto acknowledged strict safety measures will make the games “different”, but expressed hope they can still be held in a celebratory atmosphere.
“It will be simple rather than festive, but I hope it will be something moving that encourages people through the power of sport,” he said.
Athletes will be screened on arrival in Japan and then undergo regular tests every four to five days during their stay at the Olympic Village.
An infection control centre will also be set up to deal with positive cases, which organisers say they presume will occur.
However officials have not yet announced how competition rules would be affected if an athlete contracted coronavirus during the Games.
All athletes must sign up to a code of conduct that includes avoiding speaking loudly, avoiding physical contact with others and wearing masks when not training or competing.
They will also be asked to leave Japan as soon as their events are over, rather than stay on in the country for sightseeing.
Fan quarantine ‘impractical’
Penalties for non-compliance have yet to be determined and will be drawn up in conjunction with the International Olympic Committee.
“This is not a law, but we need to be careful and ask people to lay out precautions,” said Muto.
“We will create a system that allows team leaders or athlete representatives to provide cautions.”
Concrete measures to determine how many fans will be able to attend will be decided in the spring, with infection rates around the world at the time taken into account.
Organisers have decided that imposing a two-week quarantine on visiting fans is “impractical” given the time constraints, and will instead ask them to download tracking apps and abide by rigorous safety guidelines.
Muto said organisers were working on the assumption that a vaccine will not be available by the time the Games begin, despite positive results in tests in recent weeks.
He added that the cost of the virus countermeasures had not yet been calculated, although reports last week estimated them at US$1 billion.
The same report calculated that postponing the Games from their original date this year will add another US$2 billion to the price tag.
Enthusiasm for the Games has been waning in Japan, with a poll in July showing just one in four people wanted to see them held in 2021. Most backed either a further delay or a cancellation.