The Japanese government’s decision to declare a covid19 state of emergency (SoE) in Tokyo and ban fans from all stadiums for the Olympic Games had already been factored into the TT Olympic Committee’s plans ahead of the July 23-August 9 gamest.
Brian Lewis, TTOC president, said it had anticipated such a move by the Japan government, Tokyo organising committee, Tokyo metropolitan government and the International Olympic Committee. The TTOC welcomes the necessary enhancements of the protocols, he said.
Thanks to earlier discussions with the Olympic delegation’s chef de mission Lovie Santana and covid19 liaison officer Rheeza Grant among other officials, the TTOC was and is prepared for any last-minute adjustments from event organisers, he said.
On Thursday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a SoE in Tokyo as new coronavirus cases continue to rise sharply in the capital. The measure goes into effect on Monday and will be in place until August 22. Suga also confirmed the Olympics will take place without spectators.
Lewis said, “As part of our risk mitigation, risk assessment and scenario planning from a project management perspective, it’s not something that we did not anticipate or take into consideration.
“It hasn’t surprised us. It’s in sync with our commitment to ensure the safety and health of the delegation. That’s why we have insisted, although not mandatory, we are aiming for 100 per cent vaccination of out Olympic delegation.”
The decisions taken by Japan now allow the athletes and all other competing countries to train and compete in a full bio-secure bubble. Lewis said this was the step organisers needed to take to provide additional protection for participants and citizens there.
He added that the Japanese government had previously hinted that once it was going ahead with the Games, all options remained on the table to protect citizens.
“I’ve always had confidence with the measures they’ve put in place: testing, monitoring, isolation, quarantining, etc.
“I think we have to be honest, given that the IOC and Japan government were determined to go ahead with the games, the SoE and the no-spectators had to be done,” he said.
Santana and Grant have been working with the various TT team managers to ensure athletes maintain a high degree of personal responsibility and discipline in adhering to the measures.
The IOC and Japan government have said any breaches of the covid19 protocols, counter-measures and guidelines could result in groups or individuals being sent home. Lewis supports this measure.
“We are not going to have any tolerance for breaches and deviations from the counter-measures. We are urging the various team managers to put these things in place.
“We’re going there to compete hard, safely and to return home to our country, families and communities safely and without any covid19 variant. There is added responsibility on the athletes and delegation.”
The locally-based Olympic delegation, which comprises officials only, must undergo two PCR tests within 72 hours of their departure for Tokyo. They must arrive in Japan with two negative PCR tests.
The TTOC president believes there’s no guarantee that athletes and officials in Japan will not test positive for covid19. However, he thinks the measures being put in place are the strictest possible.
Lewis says he and his team remain committed to adapting and adhering to any enhanced regulations presented to them by games organisers.
“This is a different Olympic Games. Covid19 has disrupted everything. The fact that they have taken the decision to have no fans is based on the science, medical and public health advice they would have gotten and taken.
“We have to abide and deal with it and stay focused on our control. We will comply with all covid19 measures and guidelines.
"Every day there’s something new, there’s uncertainty and unpredictability and that’s the reality of the covid19 situation. It’s an Olympic Games being held in the middle of a pandemic and it cannot be business as usual.”