The scenario that the International Olympic Committee and the city of Tokyo have been trying to avoid, appears to be happening.
The Tokyo Olympics were pushed back a year due to the COVID pandemic, and as the Opening Ceremonies creep closer, fear over a “super-spreader” event has increased.
The Japanese population is already against the Games taking place this year. According to The New York Times, a May nationwide poll of Japanese citizens found that 83 percent of those surveyed wanted the Olympics postponed or scrapped. Just a few weeks ago, domestic spectators were allowed to attend Olympic events — with strict rules — but even that has been eliminated.
The Japanese government declared a new state of emergency beginning July 12 over an increase in COVID cases in Tokyo. The state of emergency will run through the entirety of the Olympic games, ending August 22.
And now, athletes from all around the world are flying into Tokyo, heightening worries about a spread of COVID in the city.
On Sunday, the first cases of COVID inside the Olympic Village were reported.
According to the Associated Press, two South African soccer players tested positive on Sunday. A third individual from the South African contingent — a video analyst —also tested positive. All three have been moved to “the Tokyo 2020 isolation facility,” and the rest of the soccer team and officials have been moved to quarantine.
“Team officials and management have followed all relevant Olympic Playbook rules, protocols, and procedures throughout the pre-Games and Games arrival routines,” the South African Olympic committee said.
An IOC official also recorded a positive test on Saturday after arriving at a Tokyo airport.
Olympic officials have done all they can over the past several months to quell concerns over the events being held, but there is only so much that can be done when so many athletes, team officials, and media members congregate in a single location.
Last week, IOC President Thomas Bach said there was “zero” risk of Olympians infecting Tokyo residents, a statement that is already being tested.
The precautions taken in order to safeguard against an outbreak have been immense.
Before athletes can leave for Tokyo, they must be tested for COVID twice within 96 hours. Upon arrival, they’ll be tested again. Athletes will also be required to quarantine for three days upon arrival, and they are expected to download an app that monitors their location to assist in contact tracing.
On the field of play, hugs, handshakes, and high-fives will be discouraged. Athletes will also be expected to wear masks at all times, and will not be allowed to travel around Tokyo except for attending “official Games venues and limited additional locations.”
Even the medal ceremonies will look different.
Athletes that medal in their event will no longer have the medal placed around their neck. Instead, athletes will be handed the medal on a tray and will be expected to place the medal on themselves.
“The medals will not be given around the neck,” Bach told international media on a conference call from Tokyo. “They will be presented to the athlete on a tray and then the athlete will take the medal him or herself.
“It will be made sure that the person who will put the medal on the tray will do so only with disinfected gloves so that the athlete can be sure that nobody touched them before.”
The Opening Ceremonies are scheduled for Friday, July 23.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to email@example.com.
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