Tracking apps and testing regime discussed for Tokyo Olympics


The task force set up to manage the Covid-19 threat during next year’s Olympics in Tokyo is considering using an app or pre-submitted movement plans to track athletes during the Games, and frequent testing, in order to mitigate risks.

Organisers and Japanese officials came together at a task force meeting yesterday to discuss various measures and published draft versions of them.

Other ideas under discussion include keeping athletes off public transport, limiting athletes’ travel within Japan, social distancing using ‘pedestrian traffic lanes’ at Games venues, and the closure of common spaces such as lobbies and lounges.

Athletes may not be required to undergo quarantines, and may instead be asked to submit to extensive testing, including before their arrival in Japan, on arrival, and then regularly during their stay.

AFP reported that Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto told a press conference, “Tests are one of the most important issues from the two perspectives of securing safety and a sense of security for athletes…We’d like to create a system, or mechanism, to continue testing when they enter Japan.”

The task force is aiming to nail down its pandemic control measures by the end of this year.

New Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga and International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach had a 15-minute phone call this week, during which both reaffirmed their commitment to running a successful Olympics next year. Kyodo News reported that Suga said the government was working with Tokyo local government and the Olympics organising committee to ensure that the Games could be staged in a safe way. Suga took office last week. He has also already discussed the safe running of the Games with Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike.

In an open letter to the Olympic movement published this week, Bach said the return of sports events around the world was giving confidence to the project to stage the Tokyo Olympics next year.

He said advances in Covid-19 testing and vaccine development could be significant in the staging of the Games. New, rapid Covid-19 tests would be an “important additional tool” he said, and he noted there had been recent good news about the progress of vaccines, although warned there may be no “silver bullet” to address the virus threat.

“The IOC will continue to study these developments closely,” he said. “We are also evaluating what consequences they would have for the organisation of sports events, ranging from the need to change certain rules of our respective organisations to medical, economic, social and logistical aspects. To this end, we continue to cooperate closely with the World Health Organisation, public authorities, medical and scientific experts, as well as pharmaceutical companies.”

Bach said sport is “widely recognised as an essential factor in fighting the pandemic” and “accepted as an integral part of the solution for the crisis recovery”.

Meanwhile, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the involvement from players in his league at the Tokyo Olympics may be limited because its next season would still be going on while the Games take place. Yesterday it was reported that the NBA is looking at moving back the start date of its 2020-21 season to January.