As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage and storm through various sporting events, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) continues to reassure athletes and major stakeholders that Tokyo 2020 will push through.
IOC press operations’ Lucia Montanarella revealed that the Olympic body will continue launching their plans according to the scenario where COVID-19 and travel restrictions are still rampant.
“It is clear that these Games are going to be very different,” said the head of Olympic Games media operations on Tuesday, January 26 in the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) online open discussion on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Reiterating president Thomas Bach’s statement that “there is no Plan B,” Montanarella admitted it won’t be the Olympics that “we’re used to” as the organizers will continue enforcing strict health and safety protocols regardless of the vaccine.
This is in line with Japan’s COVID-19 situation as 11 prefectures are under a state of emergency due to the new variant and citizens are still waiting for the government’s vaccine approval.
The country’s state of emergency situation is also likely to be extended after February 7 as the country continues to see a high number of coronavirus cases.
Japan is currently rolling out vaccine simulations for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, and is scheduled to approve the former on February 15.
However, the country is targeting to finish vaccinating senior citizens and medical frontliners by the end of June, which is less than a month before the Olympics opens on July 23.
“The present scenario is very much like one of those that we’d created – with the pandemic still among us, and some countries being able to contain it, some not,” added Montanarella.
“We are not in the same situation of last year. Sports events are taking place, athletes are training and competing, but we know that we are facing a huge challenge, that is to create a bubble for all athletes.”
To stage the world’s biggest sports event, it’s realistically impossible to create a bubble.
“It’s one thing to create a bubble for 200 athletes in just one sport, and a very different thing to create a bubble for thousands of athletes of different sports, the ones that will be inside the Olympic village,” shared Montanarella.
The IOC representative said the media will still continue to cover the games and won’t be housed in the Olympic Village, forcing them to take public transportation.
But the organizers have already reduced the number of slots available for media, and movement restrictions will be the biggest challenge for journalists covering the event.
“Movement restrictions will take place for the safety of Japanese people, athletes, and everyone who is accredited for the event, not with the purpose of limiting the press, of course, but to ensure the safest Games,” added Montanarella.
Montanarella shared that the venues have been redesigned and they have lost an enormous amount of media positions in areas such as the press centers, press tribune, photographers area, and mixed zone.
The press areas have been adjusted to meet physical distancing requirements of 2 meters from the athletes and 1 meter from the rest of the stakeholders. – Rappler.com