(ATR) Distribution strategies concerning potential vaccines to athletes and social distancing, notably at ceremonies and in the Olympic Village, were among key topics addressed by IOC and Tokyo 2020 leaders as a three-day project review came to a close.
Mori, Muto, Coates, Bach and Japanese athletes at the Olympic Village (Tokyo 2020)
“We’re continuing to monitor the development of vaccines – I’ve heard there may be as many as nine possibilities and if they become available the IOC will assist the athletes from foreign countries that might have access,” said the IOC’s Tokyo 2020 coordination commission chairman John Coates at a Tokyo news conference on Wednesday. “We will also assist athletes from other countries where it may not be available for various reasons.
“I think the IOC and International Paralympic Committees have indicated the same – they will be using athlete role models to encourage other athletes to take the vaccine for the safety of the participation here at the Games.”
IOC president Thomas Bach, who left Tokyo to return home earlier Wednesday, previously said that as vaccines become available, the IOC will cover administration and distribution costs.
“It will also be a benefit for the general community – I think the athletes have a part to play in encouraging not just athletes, but also others to accept the vaccine to use it. I think we can play a role in encouraging it," Coates said.
“It is the combination of the vaccine and rapid testing which we closely follow the development and evolution of those matters.
“If it happens, it will make for a much safer Games,” said the IOC vice-president.
Coates was accompanied by Tokyo 2020 leaders Yoshiro Mori and Toshiro Muto addressing Japanese media at the Project Review closing news conference. International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons and the IOC’s Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi participated remotely
Coates says that athlete participation at generally crowded ceremonies will be limited, not only by implemented guidelines, but for multiple other reasons. He suggested many athletes will skip the Opening Ceremony considering there are 15 individual and two team events commencing the day after, in addition to many athletes competing outside of Tokyo.
“There is a natural reduction in numbers,” Coates said, while noting that NOCs would not be permitted to replace non-participating athletes with officials as has been the case in the past.
Coates wants athletes to depart the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Village after their events finish. (Tokyo 2020)
The Australian NOC president also said that as rapid testing procedures and timely results advance, he could envision athletes being tested shortly before entering the stadium for the Opening Ceremony.
Coates said it is paramount that the Olympic Village is not overpopulated, while Dubi emphasizes that it must be the “safest place in Tokyo".
The coordination commission chairman said that athletes will be encouraged to depart the Olympic Village one or two days after their events finish and will also be discouraged from sightseeing during the Games.
Parsons, Dubi and Coates offered their thoughts and biggest takeaways from the joint project review and the IOC’s official three-day visit to Tokyo.
“Never before in history has such a level of planning and preparation gone into the organization of a sporting event, “ Parson said, joining the video conference from his home in Brazil. “No stone is being left unturned and we all work together to ensure safe, secure and successful Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.”
“For me, what was extremely reassuring in these last three days is the level of detail of the conversations we are into right now and credit to all of our partners in Tokyo,” Dubi said.
“We have to go into minute details for a situation that is still uncertain so you have to do the same work several times because of the different scenarios that we are facing, but the teams are very competent.
“The other challenge is the art to make the right decisions at a proper time when you don’t have all of the information – we don’t know exactly what the situation will be next year, but some decisions have to be made in December,” Dubi said.
Coates praised the commitment and dedication of the Tokyo and Japanese national government officials, many of whom he met for the first time.
“I got the impression that there was massive detail addressed, but was particularly impressed with the contribution of the government representatives,” he said. “They’ve looked at all the worst case scenario and now are looking at all the potential countermeasures to create the playbook of tools that we can use.”
IOC president Bach, who made his first visit to Japan since the Covid-19 outbreak in March, met with Olympic Top Partners and producers of the official Tokyo 2020 film on Wednesday, before his departure for home earlier in the day.
Written by Brian Pinelli
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