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Tokyo Olympic athletes face tracking apps if virus persists, says task force

  • Natsuko Fukue

    Agence France-Presse

Tokyo, Japan   /   Wed, September 23, 2020   /   08:16 pm
Tokyo Olympic athletes face tracking apps if virus persists, says task force The giant Olympic rings are pictured two days before the start of the one-year countdown to the Tokyo Olympics that have been postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, at the waterfront area at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan July 21, 2020. (Reuters/Issei Kato)

Olympic athletes could face strict controls on movement and repeated coronavirus tests under measures discussed Wednesday by a task force charged with finding ways to safely hold the postponed Tokyo 2020 Games.

With less than a year until the Olympics, organizers and Japanese officials met for the second time with a long list of possible requirements on the agenda.

Athletes may have to submit a detailed plan of their activities in advance -- and pledge to follow it -- or save their whereabouts on a "map app", according to documents prepared for the meeting.

They may also be required to undergo frequent coronavirus testing -- including three days before leaving home, another on arrival, and others during their stay.

They will, however, be allowed to train during any quarantine.

"Tests are one of the most important issues from the two perspectives of securing safety and a sense of security for athletes," Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto told a press conference.

"We'd like to create a system, or mechanism, to continue testing when they enter Japan."

But, Muto said, ensuring the reliability of pre-departure testing in every country -- and guaranteeing the accuracy even of high-precision PCR tests -- will be a challenge.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games mascots Miraitowa (2nd L) and Someity (2nd R) ride on a boat during a parade in front of spectators with karate practitioner Kiyo Shimizu (L) and para athlete Hajimu Ashida (R) in Tokyo on July 22, 2018. Japanese organisers formally introduced their doe-eyed 2020 Olympic mascots to the world on July 22, christening them with superhero names that could provide a tongue-twisting challenge to some.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games mascots Miraitowa (2nd L) and Someity (2nd R) ride on a boat during a parade in front of spectators with karate practitioner Kiyo Shimizu (L) and para athlete Hajimu Ashida (R) in Tokyo on July 22, 2018. Japanese organisers formally introduced their doe-eyed 2020 Olympic mascots to the world on July 22, christening them with superhero names that could provide a tongue-twisting challenge to some. (AFP/Toshifumi Kitamura )

'Cautious optimism' 

The 2020 Games were postponed in a historic decision earlier this year because of the coronavirus pandemic and are now set to open on July 23 next year.

Other restrictions floated in Wednesday's meeting included athletes avoiding public transport where possible and also introducing social-distancing "pedestrian traffic lanes" in venues and Olympic villages.

Common spaces such as lobbies, lounges and traditional hot spring baths might also be closed to reduce social contact.

When asked how the rules would be enforced, Muto said it depended on which restrictions were chosen.

The postponement of the Games has caused all manner of logistical headaches, forcing the renegotiation of contracts with venues and hotels, and efforts to keep sponsors on board for another year.