Olympics: Organisers unveil Covid-19 rule book for Tokyo Games

The first of the guides is aimed at sports officials.
The first of the guides is aimed at sports officials.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TOKYO (AFP) - Olympics organisers unveiled the first of a series of "playbooks" aimed at holding the coronavirus-postponed Tokyo Games safely on Wednesday (Feb 3), warning that rule breakers could be kicked out.

Sports officials will be allowed to skip quarantine as long as they monitor their health for 14 days after arriving in Japan, according to the 32-page document.

During those 14 days, however, the officials will not be allowed to travel outside the Games bubble or watch events as a spectator.

The playbooks are aimed at building confidence that the Games can go ahead even if the pandemic is not under control by the opening ceremony on July 23. The rules are set to be updated in April and again in June.

The first of the guides is aimed at sports officials, with versions for athletes, fans, media and others to follow in the coming weeks.

"We have learned a lot from the best practices of other events," said Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi of the International Olympic Committee.

"It is the mantra of all of us - the Games have to be safe, for each stakeholder group, for each participant. It's a question of responsibility."

Officials will be subject to a series of rules during their stay in Japan, including mask-wearing, complying with contact tracing and staying within designated areas.

They will have to present a detailed itinerary of their planned movements for their first 14 days in Japan and stick closely to it on arrival.

And they will have to monitor and record their health for two weeks before going to Tokyo.

Details on rules for athletes were still being finalised, but officials said they would be tested for Covid-19 at least every four days, and would be tested before leaving their country and again on arrival in Japan.

The guide released on Wednesday warns rule breakers will face "consequences that may have an impact on participation" at the Games, with "repeated or serious failures" potentially leading to offenders being kicked out.

"These Games in many respects will be different," said Olympic Games operations director Pierre Ducrey at the IOC.

"There will be a number of constraints and conditions that the participants will have to respect and follow, which will have an impact on their experience, particularly when it comes to social aspects," he told reporters at a press conference presenting the rule book.

Doubts about the Games have grown as countries have been forced to re-enter lockdowns, with large parts of Japan currently under a state of emergency.

Japan's government approved a month-long extension of its state of emergency on Tuesday, with measures now running through March 7 in parts of the country.

Tighter border restrictions imposed after infections surged have already forced the postponement of some sporting fixtures in Japan, including this year's first Olympic test event, an artistic swimming qualifier that was scheduled for March.

The nationwide Olympic torch relay is still due to begin on March 25.

Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said on Tuesday that the Games would go ahead this summer "however the coronavirus evolves", brushing aside doubts about the event.