COVID postponed the Tokyo 2020 Games to now but it continues to haunt the proceedings as cases continue to rise in the city and country.
On the first day of competition, due to a positive COVID-19 test, the first scheduled beach volleyball match of the tournament was canceled. Markéta Sluková-Nausch was supposed to team up with Barbora Hermannová for the Czech Republic against the host nation of Japan, but Sluková-Nausch tested positive for the virus and the match was called off.
Sluková-Nausch told CNN,
“I am just hoping that no other athletes will follow us because I think that something like this is a nightmare for any athlete, for any Olympian, who gets this far, this close to the Olympic competition.”
According to Sports Illustrated,
Multiple teams have already seen positive COVID-19 tests before opening ceremony began. South Africa men’s soccer team was the first to have athletes test positive within the village. Even Team USA has been impacted by the coronavirus, as alternate gymnast Kara Eaker tested positive during training camp, and tennis star Coco Gauff withdrew before the Games after testing positive.
It’s likely that positive cases will continue to rise as the Olympics unfold, and so far at least eight athletes have been ruled out from competing since testing positive after arriving in Japan.
Here’s an overview of testing protocols, vaccine rules and restrictions athletes face at the 2020 Olympics
- Testing began before the athletes and all Games participants arrived and each needed to produce two negative tests to board a plane to Japan—one at least 96 hours and one taken at least 72 hours before departure.
- USOPC chief medical officer Jonathan Finnoff said Friday that approximately 83% of Team USA is vaccinated.
- Everyone at the Games is required to wear masks at all times, socially distance and take standard measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus, such as frequent washing of hands. Some sport-specific measures were also added, such as clapping rather than singing or yelling to cheer on teammates.
- Additionally, athletes are not allowed to take public transportation and can only leave their accommodations to go to official Olympic venues. If they violate the protocols, they could face a range of consequences, including being disqualified from the Games.
- Athletes are not required to stay within the Olympic Village, though it is strongly encouraged. The USA Gymnastics team, for example, is staying in a separate hotel. Accommodations must be certified by Tokyo 2020 organizers.
- An athlete who tests positive for COVID-19 is not allowed to compete and is immediately placed into isolation. The length of isolation is determined by Japanese health authorities based on the severity of the individual’s symptoms.
The IOC released sport-specific guidelines for how competitions proceed if there is a positive test at the group stage or in a knockout round.
- No athlete or team will be listed as “disqualified” for returning a positive test. Instead, they will be listed as “DNS” (did not start) or sport-equivalent designation if they are unable to compete.
- Per the IOC Executive Board: “The minimum result of the athlete/team will be protected, considering the phase of competition at which they could not compete.”
- The next most eligible athlete or team will replace an athlete or team unable to compete whenever possible to allow the competition to proceed as usual.
At this writing the known total of Olympic-related cases since July 1 is 106. Meanwhile, Tokyo reported 1,979 new cases of COVID on Thursday—its highest total in six months.
(Photo, screengrab; via SI)