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Tokyo Olympics organizers release first 'playbook' of COVID-19 guidelines

Liz Roscher
·3-min read

In preparation for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer, the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, and the Tokyo organizing committee have released their first COVID-19 playbook, which details information about the processes and guidelines that must be followed before, during, and after the games.

The playbook, released Wednesday and the first of four, is aimed at international federations, including delegates, judges, jury members, international federation staff, and medical officers. The other three playbooks will be for athletes, the press, and broadcasters, and will be released in the coming days.

The playbooks are designed not just to help the thousands of athletes, federation members, and media members enter and exit Japan safely, but to assure the Japanese public that the games are safe to take place. According to the Associated Press, polls show that up to 80 percent of people living in Japan want the games to be postponed or canceled altogether.

What information is in the playbook?

“In the playbook we are documenting what will be the typical journey for a stakeholder group, starting with measures 14 days prior to departure,” games operation director Pierre Ducrey told the AP. “Including a test before you leave your county, a test upon the time you enter the country, and testing for each stakeholder group while they are in Japan.”

The playbook does outline the “typical journey” for an international federation member attending the games, as well as information about hygiene, testing, immigration and a code of conduct that forbids athletes from engaging in any tourism while they’re in Japan. However, the playbook lacks a significant amount of detail. Most of the info is basic, and includes guidelines like “avoid crowds and enclosed spaces,” “practice good hygiene,” and “wear a face mask at all times.”

More detailed information is expected to be included in later versions of the playbooks, which will be updated in April and June.

Vaccine not required

While the playbook was light on detailed information, organizers did announce that the IOC and the Japanese government will not require athletes and officials to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to participate in the 2020 Olympics.

While the IOC will encourage individual delegations to be vaccinated before they arrive, and assist in coordinating vaccinations if necessary, the IOC told the AP that they’re holding the games as if the vaccine doesn’t exist. Practices like constant masking and social distancing will be vital.

Organizing committee determined to hold 2020 Games, no matter what

With COVID-19 still a major health concern in most countries around the world, the eventual status of the games has been perpetually in doubt. Polls show the majority of the Japanese public doesn’t want the 2020 Olympics to go on this summer, and that was bolstered in January when an unnamed Japanese government official told the London Times that the 2020 Olympics were likely to be canceled.

“No one wants to be the first to say so, but the consensus is that it’s too difficult,” the source told the London Times. “Personally, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

That report was swiftly refuted by the IOC, and these playbooks are an effort to sway the Japanese public and others who believe the games should be postponed or canceled. However, it doesn’t appear that public opinion — or anything else, including COVID-19 — will stop the Tokyo organizing committee from going forward with the games.

“No matter what the situation would be with the coronavirus, we will hold the games,” Yoshiro Mori, the president of the Tokyo organizing committee and a former Japanese prime minister, told lawmakers on Tuesday via the AP. “We should pass on the discussion of whether we will hold the games or not, but instead discuss how we should hold it.”

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games logo is seen in Tokyo on January 28, 2021. (Photo by Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games logo is seen in Tokyo on Jan. 28, 2021. (Photo by Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

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