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Athletes at the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics must eat alone, be tested daily, and refrain from talking in confined spaces such as elevators under tough and joyless new Covid rules announced by organisers on Tuesday.
The 11,000 competitors at the Games, along with support staff and media, have also been told they cannot speak to a driver in an official vehicle – and will face the threat of fines, disqualification, medals being taken away and even deportation for repeated or “malicious” offences.
Worryingly for Team GB, organisers also said they are considering a six-day hard quarantine for athletes and media coming from the 10 countries where the growth of the Delta variant is significant.
However it is understood that the British Olympic Association and the International Olympic Committee are hopeful that such drastic action will not be required when athletes arrive in around a month’s time.
Responding to a question about whether people coming from red list countries, such as the UK, would require six days in hard quarantine, a Tokyo Games spokesperson said: “Quarantine for six days is required for some countries where the same treatment will be imposed on athletes and media. We wanted to make sure we have a countermeasure with variants.
“Now the Japanese government and the IOC and International Paralympic Committee [IPA] are currently in ongoing discussions about what our countermeasures will be during the Games. Our perspective is that we have to make it absolutely a safe Games because they will come to Japan to compete, and we want to make sure the process is not too impactful for them performing. So these are the things that we are looking at.”
Version three of the IOC’s and IPA’s playbook for the Games also tells athletes they must “avoid staying an unnecessarily long time in a space and refrain from talking in constrained areas such as elevators”. In dedicated Games vehicles, athletes must wear masks and “refrain from conversations” with the driver.
The playbook also states that when eating meals, people must “keep 2 metres away from others unless instructed otherwise, or eat by yourself, keeping contacts to a minimum”.
However, organisers have confirmed that anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 will not be disqualified – and that they will still pick up a medal if they are entitled to one at the time.
The IOC’s sports director, Kit McConnell, added: “If an athlete would have taken part in a medal event but cannot, they will receive the minimum level of medal they would have received.
“For example, in a final they will receive a silver medal. That’s really important from our perspective to reflect the minimum level that athlete or team would have achieved.”
A BOA spokesperson said: “We continue to have positive dialogue with the IOC and the Tokyo Organising Committee, following our letter to the President of Tokyo 2020. Our approach to additional testing measures and vaccinations for the delegation prior to departure and upon arrival demonstrate we are doing everything possible to minimise any risk to the people of Japan.”