TOKYO (AP) – As calls for cancellation mount, pressure is on Japanese organizers and the IOC to explain exactly how they plan to host the Tokyo Olympics amid a pandemic .
The International Olympic Committee and local organizers are expected to launch “Playbooks” next week that will provide step-by-step details on how athletes and thousands more will get in and out of Tokyo safely.
Organizers and the IOC have been vague for months, opening the door to speculation about a cancellation or other postponement. Some members of the Japanese medical community have expressed concern, fearing that hospitals – already struggling with local patients – will be overwhelmed when the Olympics open on July 23. The Paralympic Games will follow on August 24.
There is also a skeptical Japanese audience. Recent polls suggest that 80% want games rescheduled or canceled.
Tokyo and Japan have seen an outbreak of the virus in recent months, and much of the country is under emergency orders. Japan has attributed just over 5,000 deaths to COVID-19 and has controlled the virus much better than most countries.
Q: So what are “Playbooks” and how will they work?
A: These are guides that will be intended for athletes and others – sponsors, officials, media and broadcasters – on how to enter Japan for the Olympics. The rules could require self-quarantine before leaving the country of origin. For some, a negative test will be necessary before boarding the plane. There will be more testing upon arrival in Japan, transportation in designated vehicles and more daily testing in the Athletes’ Village, which like the sites, will turn into a “bubble”. The rule books will be updated three times, adding new information as organizers learn more.
Q: Why are the organizers convinced they can host the Olympic and Paralympic Games?
A: Craig Spence, a spokesperson for the International Paralympic Committee, listed four reasons: 1) Unlike 10 months ago, scientists know a lot more about the virus; 2) sports and health officials learned to organize sporting events during the pandemic; 3) vaccines are now available; 4) the Olympic and Paralympic Games do not open for six months, by which time the virus outbreak easily penetrates the northern hemisphere in summer.
“We fully understand the pressure the health care system is under right now,” Spence told The Associated Press. “But come in the summer, that should not be the case because the number of cases should drop.
“If you are an athlete or a stakeholder, you will not be able to get on an airplane until you provide a negative test,” Spence added. “When you see the number of tests we are going to do (on site), that should reassure people.
Q: What about the fans? Will there be any? Are there foreigners?
A: Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto said in a parliamentary session on Tuesday that the decision would be announced “by spring”. The sites interiors are likely to have fewer fans – if any – than outdoor stadiums. And it seems increasingly unlikely that overseas fans will be able to attend. Fewer fans mean more costs for Japan. The local organizing committee expected to receive $ 800 million from ticket sales. Any deficit will have to be filled by Japanese government entities.
Q: What about vaccines? Will they have to enter Japan?
A: It is a delicate area. Bach encouraged all “participants” to get the vaccine, but said it won’t be necessary. The IOC and other sporting bodies are warned that healthy young athletes should not be given priority over vulnerable workers and healthcare professionals. Member of the Dick Pound IOC of Canada …
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