Organizers of the Tokyo Olympic games announced Monday that athletes and officials will not be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine before participating in the games. The news comes with the International Olympic Committee’s official publishing of the “Tokyo 2020 playbook.” The playbook outlines rules and safety regulations that will be put into place for the games scheduled for later this year. The publishing of these rules and regulations put to rest any rumors that the games would be again postposed; however, they show that intense precautions will be taken to ensure the safety of all involved with the games, as well as the larger population of Japan. Olympic officials cited other successful professional sporting events around the world going on amid the pandemic as a reason to be confident the games can be done in a safe way. While the vaccine will not be required to participate, the IOC still encourages countries to vaccinate their teams before sending them to Tokyo.
The announcement also outlined other precautions the Japanese government will be taking. Everyone attending the games will be required to download the government’s contact tracing app, as well as outline all activities planned during their first two weeks in Japan. In addition to a negative test dated within 72 hours of arrival, athletes will be required to provide lists of anyone they will, and expect to, have close contact with and minimize non-essential social activities. Athletes will also need permission to use any public transport and wear a face mask at all times other than when eating, sleeping, or in a permissible outdoor space. Athletes are told to expect frequent testing throughout their stay and temperature checks at all entrances to any events.
“The regulations are trying to promote the safest possible environment within the village,” Pierre Ducrey, director of Olympic Games operations for the International Olympic committee, said in regard to athletes staying at the Olympic village. “We feel like this is the best place for them to be when it comes to operating in safe conditions.”
Before the July games, there are expected to be two more editions of playbooks outlining more specific regulations and logistics. This playbook was directed mostly at international sports federations, and more descriptive rules for individuals involved will be coming as soon as the next few days. As of now, it is not known if spectators, especially those from abroad, will be allowed to participate in the games. The committee said that spectators would have to be exempt from the government’s 14-day required quarantine period due to the impracticality which brings concerns that opening Japan’s now-closed borders will put the local populations at risk. However, not opening the games to spectators would cost organizers around $800 million in potential ticket sales.
The current playbook also does not provide a plan for those who violate these regulations, while most do not anticipate any willful negation of policy. However, the Japanese authorities will have the right to send anyone who has tested positive to a government isolation facility, and to determine when they can be released. Right now, it is anticipated that protocol violation would result in dismissal from the games.