(ATR) “Is there a doctor in the house?” could well be the latest telling question facing Tokyo 2020 organizers after Tuesday’s fourth domestic Coordination Committee meeting called to discuss COVID-19 countermeasures for next year’s Games.
Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto (ATR)
Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto raised concerns that the Games city may not have enough doctors and specialists available during the Games and he did not want to put a strain on the local health professionals.
And like so many of the issues facing these pandemic-threatened Games, the answers are not forthcoming.
The concerns over a lack of doctors follows the establishment of the Tokyo 2020 Infectious Disease Control Centre as the Organizing Committee tries desperately to ensure the creation of a safe and clean field of play.
The questions and the issues are mounting by the day as the pandemic continues to pose enormous concerns, engulfing the Games organizers who appear to be struggling to find solutions.
Hoping that time will heal these growing ills.
Asked if he was concerned by the suggestion that it may well be very difficult for the local health professionals to co-operate with the Tokyo 2020 requests, a masked Muto (through an interpreter) had no hesitation in replying: “Yes indeed!
“Japan’s health professionals, especially the infectious control experts, the number of them are limited…limited (on the) specialists (sic).
“And for Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics we would like to gain a lot of the specialists.
“We don’t want to put a strain on them and we don’t want to have an impact on the local health care system. We would like to avoid that.
“That is our approach, so we need to discuss further with our stake holders to find the best solution so we do not strain the current health system by taking too many specialists away from the local health care system.
“So what will be the best solution? We will make a further discussion…”
And that discussion could well be on top of a very long list of questions that remain unanswered as 2021 quickly approaches.
When quizzed about COVID-19 protocols, the frequency of athlete testing and re-testing, false positives, results and the final procedures and guidelines Muto deferred his answers to the fifth meeting of the Coordination Committee in December.
Others to the International Federations in consultation with the IOC and after the upcoming Test Events (as opposed to Testing Events) in November and in the New Year, “that may shed further light on the all-important COVID-19 procedures and guidelines surrounding the lead in to the Games.
And in some instances there may not be answers until just before the Games begin on Friday, July 23, 2021.
A Lengthy "To Do" List
The Infectious Disease Control Centre (only a tentative name) was one of the positive announcements from a host of major talking points to emerge from the meeting as it grapples with the on-going COVID-19 dilemma.
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Village (Tokyo 2020)
The meeting proclaimed that “The Infectious Disease Centre within the Main Operation Center (MOC) of the Organizing Committee, will serve as a hub for information sharing in the operation of the Games, to strengthen the incident management function for infectious disease control in the operation of the Games so as to centrally promote measures against infectious diseases in co-operating with the Olympic and Paralympic Village, Polyclinic and the health and hygiene base function.”
Another was the establishment of a Games designated hospital that accepts athletes and the Games officials who need to be hospitalized during the Tokyo 2020 Games.
And that there needed to be an agreement with the Organizing Committee in advance.
And that they should also consider clarifying in advance the flow from consultation to hospitalization for athletes, the flow from discharge to return to their native country; and an emergency contact system so as to contribute to reducing the burden of examinations, diagnoses and procedures at the Games designated hospitals.
It was also raised that considering the capacity of the Games designated hospitals, it may be necessary to have a supplementary system of hospitals other than the designated hospitals.
In addition, if an athlete becomes infected, it will have a direct impact on the operation of the Games, such as whether to participate in the competition, therefore it would be necessary to have a system in which the administrative infectious disease control department and the organizations responsible for the Games management, such as the Organizing Committee, can work closely together.
A system is needed to promptly provide medical and testing opportunities to athletes suspected of being infected.
- Securing medical institutions for athletes to be seen and be hospitalized; accommodation for mild/asymptomatic cases
- Strengthening local health care functions; strengthening of health and hygiene functions for athletes and strengthening medical and medical treatment functions for athletes
Policy for Positive Tests Could Be "Last Minute" Decision
And Muto’s take if there is a positive test during the Games?
“They will not be allowed to play (sic) in the competition…that will be in most of the cases….and whether there will be a second test..?” asked Muto.
“First of all we will need a doctor or specialist to confirm the positive of that athlete or person and if that positive is confirmed it is highly likely they will not be allowed to play (sic) in the competition.
“However after reaching a certain time and the subsequent test shows a negative – that person of course (still) needs to be isolated even after they test negative.
“We need to consult with the International Federations to make a decision as Tokyo 2020 depends on the situation we have to prepare the procedures and guidelines and rules in advance... “
So is the policy going to be decided this year? Or after New Year after consulting with International Federations and IOC?
“We have not discussed that yet so I can’t really answer your question but maybe we will make a decision in December. However at the moment it could be right before the Olympics…. if this is only the procedure and not the physical preparation…
“And through the Test events we will gain new knowledge and we may modify our measures so this is an exercise for us to prepare.
“We don’t have a clear deadline for the decision…. we may continue to have this discussion until the last minute.”
And all of that along with the most telling question of all: ”Are there any doctors left in the house?
That must be solved by Tokyo 2020 sooner rather than later.
Written and reported by Ian Hanson
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