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‘Not losing our time’: IOC insists Olympic Games will go ahead in Tokyo

Credit:  The Age newspaper

By Latika Bourke  January 28, 2021 — 5.21am

London: The President of the International Olympic Committee insists the already-postponed Tokyo Games will go ahead in July.

But he could not guarantee there would be spectators and denied that pushing ahead with the tournament as the world faces lethal third-waves of the coronavirus pandemic was “irresponsible”.

Speaking to the media after a 4½-hour executive board meeting IOC President Thomas Bach said the body had committed to the Games going ahead.

He said speculation the event would be cancelled or postponed again as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage much of the world was hurting the athletes and was not helpful.

“We are not losing our time and energy on the speculations but we are fully concentrating on the opening ceremony on the 23rd of July this year,” he said.

“We are not speculating on whether the Games are taking place, we are working on how the Games will take place.

“We are working on the basis of having all athletes there, in Tokyo, for all events,” he said.

Bach said the Games would require COVID countermeasures for every scenario but said it was too soon to specify what they would be and pleaded for patience.

He said discussions were ongoing and included the World Health Organisation and the makers of vaccines.

Much of Japan is under a state of emergency and hundreds of countries have imposed strict travel bans grinding international travel to a near halt. Recent polls suggest up to 80 per cent of the Japanese population want the Games cancelled or delayed because they fear the event will drive up infections.

Bach said it was not possible to move the Games to another city and said proceeding with them was “clearly not irresponsible.”

“Our task is to organise Olympic Games and not to cancel Olympic Games and our task is to make the dreams of Olympic athletes to come true.”

“If we would think it would be irresponsible and if we would think that the Games could not be safe, we would not go for it. Okay. Principle number one: safe organisation,” he said.

As speculation has raged about the future of the Tokyo Games, so too has debate about whether athletes should be fast-tracked for vaccinations.

While some countries, including Israel which is leading the race to inoculate its population, say their sportsmen and women will be vaccinated in time, others with slower or delayed rollouts are pondering the question.

Australian swimmer and two-time gold medallist Cate Campbell has said athletes should be prioritised if it saves the Games from cancellation.

Asked if athletes should be prioritised for vaccinations, Bach said: “We are not in favour of athletes jumping the queue.” He said it was a question for each government and their Olympic Committees.

The Tokyo Games were to have been held last year, but were delayed for the first time in Olympic history as the pandemic unfolded.

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Since the "Brazilians: topic was closed before I could comment, I was going to say that assessing 2016 is between vuvuzuelas and boos, I'd take the boos (which should have its limits).  But what I wil

Should the IOC and TOCOG determine that TOKYO 2020 will proceed as planned there will likely be unprecedented changes to venues, security, travel protocols, medical preparedness, etc.. A more informat

My sentiments exactly FINALLY!!!!

Sports world holds its breath for Tokyo’s Olympic COVID ‘playbook’

Credit: Brisbane Times
By Phil Lutton January 30, 2021 — 11.00pm

After postponements and endless uncertainty about how the Olympic Games in Tokyo will play out, next week will bring some long-awaited detail from the hosts and organisers.

It will arrive on February 5 in the form of an official “playbook” from the International Olympic Committee, which will for the first time shed clear light on exactly how the IOC and their Japanese hosts plan to ensure a safe and successful Games for about 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

The IOC needs the playbook to be well received as it tries to convince the world the Games can be salvaged. Earlier this month, it had to hose down reports the Japanese government was already resigned to cancelling the Olympics and had been workshopping various exit strategies, one of which was to try to claim the 2032 spot, which south-east Queensland remains favourite to snare.

Sceptics still believe the Games simply can’t be held in the current COVID-19 environment and both Tokyo organisers and the IOC are planning for an event where vaccines are not in play, although the more athletes are given access to doses before the July 23 opening the better.

The flow-on effects of a triumphant staging — or a costly cancellation — are immense, from the athletes wondering if five years of work are about to vanish into thin air to potential hosts more than a decade down the track.

Who pays the price?

Already, these summer Games are forecast to be among the most expensive in history, with delays blowing out an already bloated budget that sits close to $20 billion. That figure is likely to be conservative and any cancellation would be an immense blow to the coffers of the IOC, which relies heavily (75 per cent of revenue) on broadcast deals to fund its operations.

But the brunt of the Games will be carried by the Japanese taxpayer, says Matt Nichol, a Melbourne-based sports law academic with a particular interest in Japan. Those taxpayers aren’t likely to get a return on investment even if a slimline Games limps into life.

“In terms of real skin in the game, it’s not the IOC or broadcasters of sponsors or athletes, it’s the Japanese citizen. The total cost at the end of last year was about $US12.5 billion. And that money has been spent,” Nichol says.

“You get sold on the economic benefit of a Games, the legacy of the infrastructure and the exposure and the tourism. And however these Games are going to play out, they just aren’t going to get that usual return.

“However you break it down, the city of Tokyo and Greater Tokyo, they are going to wear the costs.”

How have the key Olympic sports coped?

Rohan Taylor is the head coach of the nation’s highest-profile Olympic sport and is as eager as anyone to see what kind of specifics the IOC playbook contains. His swimmers have become accustomed to upheaval, he says, but some real, tangible organisational scaffolding ahead of Tokyo would come as a blessing.

“Human nature doesn’t like uncertainty. We don’t respond well to that and there is a constant, swirling uncertainty around these Olympics. For us, we have to try and maintain the plans to get a group of athletes, coaches and staff and to get to Tokyo and perform at their best,” Taylor says.

“Those are the things that really guide us to ensure we prepare our team correctly. We have to be able to move into that space [in Japan] and be compliant but also we want some of that certainty. We’ll talk about the types of scenarios that may emerge and we feel like we can cope with anything now ... we’ve dealt with a lot already.

“But once we get some information from the IOC, that will definitely settle the nerves a bit.”

What of Australia’s bid for the 2032 Olympics?

Australia remains one of the favourites to host the Games of 2032, with the south-east Queensland bid having support from every level of government and progressing faster than many observers may have realised.

Brisbane’s lord mayor, Adrian Schrinner, confessed to a shortness of breath when he heard reports that Japan may withdraw and ask the IOC to in turn award them the 2032 Games. With that quickly dismissed, he says 2021 is a key year for Queensland’s bid as discussions with the IOC gain pace.

“It’s very exciting. All three levels of government are on board and working feverishly. There was a lull for a period last year where there wasn’t so much talk about the Olympics, but that didn’t mean things weren’t continuing behind the scenes. Now, it’s just a matter of getting down to targeted discussions and hopefully make it a reality,” Schrinner says.

“That is something that could happen any time now. I think 2021 will be the critical year for this … I really do think that. It may not be that a decision is made this year but ... a decision could be made at any stage from now on, essentially.”

The new bidding process has ended the days of costly presentations and years of greasing wheels in the hope of a final vote. Now, Schrinner says, there is a “constant dialogue” with the IOC that has progressed to a point where certain guarantees, like the ability to present a carbon-neutral Games, are being sought.

More than anything, an Australian Games looks like an extremely safe bet for an IOC that would love to have its next three Games locked in after the drama of Tokyo. That, Schrinner says, is a major selling point.

“That’s the case we’re putting forward to the IOC … we are a capable, safe set of hands to host an event of this magnitude.”

What do the athletes need to know before Tokyo?

According to Cate Campbell, Australia’s star freestyle sprinter and multiple Olympic gold medallist, not as much as you’d think. It’s not exactly “shut up and swim” but Campbell has become content to stay at arm’s length from the speculation and ensure she is ready to fire once the Games eventually begin.

“Ian Chesterman (Australia’s Chef de Mission) has been very good with communicating and making things really transparent but also, how much do athletes really need to know? An athlete’s job is to turn up and perform their best on the day. The organisers have the job to provide an environment where that can happen,” Campbell says.

“As long as those two parties are doing everything they can to get the best result, then I don’t need to know the ins and outs of plans A to Z. All I need to do is train and if there is important information, that will filter down to me.

“I just need to know what are the changes and how it affects my training and racing. And you can plan from there. Until then, it’s enough to know the Olympics are actually going ahead.”

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An Olympics with no cheering: IOC reveals first COVID playbook

Credit: Sydney Morning Herald - by Phil Lutton, February 3, 2021 — 9.48pm

 

Tokyo organisers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have provided the first glimpse of how the Tokyo Games will function during a pandemic, releasing a series of guidelines in a COVID “playbook” while promising a safe Olympic and Paralympic Games in the northern hemisphere summer.

But the pages of the first book are light on detail, with the IOC and local organising committee painting with a deliberate broad brush as they try to convince sceptics that the world’s biggest multi-sport event, already postponed once, can avoid being a super-spreader event as tens of thousands of athletes, officials and media travel to Japan.

Even so, it’s a significant document which outlines a timeline that begins 14 days before travelling to Tokyo, arrival in the city, the experience during the Games and subsequent departure. More details will be released in updated playbooks as the July Games draw closer, each targeting different groups of attendees.

The first playbook is aimed at delegates of international sporting federations, judges and technical officials and includes pre-departure testing, use of a smartphone app for contact tracing, testing on arrival, testing during the stay and constant use of face masks.

It also says anyone in venues should only clap athletes, not cheer or shout, to avoid any extra possibility of spreading virus particles. It will, if nothing else, be the most polite Olympics yet held.

Specific advice for athletes has yet to be released, while Games operation director Pierre Ducrey told a press briefing that the first document and subsequent playbooks would be nimble and could change depending on the COVID environment closer to the Games.

He said the Games were running on the assumption a vaccine was not in play but any athletes or stakeholders who were able to be vaccinated as per their country’s stipulated timeline would be of significant benefit.

“For all Games participants, there will be some conditions and constraints that will require flexibility and understanding,” Ducrey said. “We are providing the main directions at this stage but naturally don’t have all the final details yet.

“We will make sure all the information needed is shared as quickly as possible to ensure we are fully prepared to protect all those coming to and residing in Japan during the Tokyo 2020 Games.”

Tokyo officials would not speculate what would happen if accredited participants violated the rules but said there would be a ‘procudere in place’ for those caught out. Ducrey said all stakeholders would have to be responsible for their own plans and ensure they followed the most recent rules.

Given the contents of the first playbook, it stands to be a solitary Games. Participants are told to avoid social interaction whenever possible and to stay clear of public transport, using only official Games transport.

Many answers are yet to be provided but those targeted in the first playbook must plan early and have a negative test certificate and present a detailed activity plan for their first 14 days in Tokyo. The negative test must be taken within 72 hours of departure.

They will also have to use an app to monitor and detail their health for 14 days before travel and prepare a list of anyone who they will be in close contact with during their stay in Japan.

Accredited participants must take a COVID test on arrival in Japan and be prepared to move quickly through the aiport en route to their accommodation. Details for athletes remain cloudy but they are likely to be required to remain in the village during their stay and arrive no more than five days before competition.

There would be regular tests during the stay for accredited participants and anyone with symptoms would be expected to test and isolate immediately. The IOC did confirm that athletes would not require to quarantine before arrival but instead record a detailed health log and present a series of negative tests.

More information for athletes will be forthcoming over the next week, which will come as a huge relief for sports and teams attempting to plan their lead-up to a Games that will be regarded a minor miracle if it is staged without an outbreak.

The issue for Australian attendees may not be going to Tokyo but returning home, with two-week hotel quarantine compulsory at this stage.

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Can you maybe stop posting the same article in multiple threads?

Anyway, I've seen a report that the Japanese medical association already indicated that during the pandemic (and no, that will not be miraculously over by July), there is really not much room for Japanese doctors to be available for any medical matters at the Olympics.

So good luck IOC. You can pretend as much as you want, but that virus will not care.

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FIRST PLAYBOOK PUBLISHED OUTLINING MEASURES TO DELIVER SAFE AND SUCCESSFUL OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC GAMES TOKYO 2020

Credit:  International Olympic Committee website

03 FEB 2021

THE INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE (IOC), THE INTERNATIONAL PARALYMPIC COMMITTEE (IPC) AND THE TOKYO 2020 ORGANISING COMMITTEE (TOKYO 2020) TODAY PUBLISHED THE FIRST PLAYBOOK, A RESOURCE WHICH OUTLINES THE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITIES KEY STAKEHOLDERS MUST TAKE TO PLAY THEIR ROLE IN ENSURING SAFE AND SUCCESSFUL OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC GAMES THIS SUMMER.

The series of Playbooks provide a framework of basic principles that each key stakeholder group will follow before they travel to Japan, when entering Japan, during their time at the Games and when leaving the Games. They will provide direction and set parameters that will enable people and organisations to advance their planning at this stage. A preview of the Playbook for athletes was already given in a call with the Global Network of Athletes’ Commissions on Monday.

The first of this series of Playbooks is, for logistical reasons, aimed at International Federations and Technical Officials. Playbooks for the athletes, media and broadcasters will be published in the coming days. Accompanying the publication of each Playbook will be a series of briefings from the IOC, IPC and Tokyo 2020 with the stakeholders in question.

These Playbooks are the official, centralised source of information for the Olympic and Paralympic Games stakeholders, and the first versions will be updated with more detail over the coming months, as the global situation relating to COVID-19 becomes clearer ahead of the Games. 

The Playbooks are the basis of our game plan to ensure that all Olympic and Paralympic Games participants and the people of Japan stay safe and healthy this summer. They have been developed jointly by Tokyo 2020, the  IOC and the IPC. They are based on the extensive work of the All Partners Task Force, which also includes the World Health Organization, the Government of Japan, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, independent experts and organisations from across the world, and the interim report published by the Three-Party Council in December 2020.  In addition, they also draw upon the lessons learned from the successful measures being implemented in other sectors, including the successful resumption of thousands of international sports events across the world. Each stakeholder group will have to follow specific guidelines tailored to their individual operational needs. However, in this first edition, stakeholders will find many of the standard and commonly accepted key health countermeasures currently being implemented around the globe relating to personal hygiene, testing and tracing.

The Playbooks also outline a typical journey for each stakeholder group, beginning with measures starting 14 days before arriving in Japan, testing before departure and upon arrival in the country, and the use of smartphone applications to report health and support contact tracing during Games time. Measures will also be in place to identify, isolate and treat any potential positive cases.

In the Athletes and Team Officials Playbook, for example, this stakeholder group will learn more about their time in the Olympic and Paralympic Village. There they will be subjected to strict control measures to ensure their safety. This will include limiting the amount of time athletes and support staff stay in the Village, restrictions on socialising outside the Village, their movement between official Games venues, and a COVID-19 screening system that will see athletes and support staff screened during the Games.

The measures outlined in the first version of the Playbooks will be gradually built on over the coming weeks, as and when circumstances change and subsequent decisions are made. Information will continue to be shared and updates to the Playbooks are expected by April and June, providing more details that will allow people to progress to the next stage of planning.

Speaking about the publication of the Playbooks, IOC Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi said: “The health and safety of everyone at the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 are our top priority. We each have our part to play. That’s why these Playbooks have been created – with the rules that will make each and every one of us a sound, safe and active contributor to the Games. We know these Olympic Games will be different in a number of ways. For all Games participants, there will be some conditions and constraints that will require flexibility and understanding. We are providing the main directions at this stage, but naturally don’t have all the final details yet; an update will be published in the spring and may change as necessary even closer to the Games. We will make sure all the information needed is shared as quickly as possible to ensure we are fully prepared to protect all those coming to and residing in Japan during the Tokyo 2020 Games.” He continued: “By committing to following the Playbooks we will be stronger together. In return, the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be remembered as a historic moment for humanity, the Olympic Movement and all those contributing to their success.”

Craig Spence, the IPC’s Chief Brand and Communications Officer, said: “To ensure safe and successful Games this summer, every single stakeholder involved in, or attending the Games has a key role to play. Central to this are the Playbooks that form an integral part of a new and robust masterplan developed over the last 12 months to protect every Games stakeholder and, importantly, the people of Japan during Tokyo 2020.

“Since March 2020’s postponement we know much more about COVID-19, while the thousands of international sports events that have taken place safely over the last year have given us valuable learning experiences. Combining this new knowledge with existing know-how has enabled us to develop these Playbooks, which will be updated with greater detail ahead of the Games.”

Tokyo 2020 Games Delivery Officer Nakamura Hidemasa commented: “The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the daily lives of people around the world, and the Olympic and Paralympic Games need to adapt accordingly. Safety and security have become everyone’s top priority, and this summer's Games will be no different. Accordingly, Tokyo 2020, the IOC and the IPC have jointly published individual Playbooks for each stakeholder outlining the rules that need to be followed by all Games participants. The Playbooks were created from the perspective of the participants themselves, based on the interim summary that was published at the Coordination Meeting for COVID-19 Countermeasures last December. They include not only the specific measures that need to be taken, but also details of the rules that need to be observed and the appointment of a single person to oversee COVID-19 countermeasures in each stakeholder group to ensure effectiveness. The purpose of this first edition is to communicate ‘what we know at this time’ to a large number of people in an easy-to-understand manner. The Playbooks will be updated to the second edition this spring as the situation changes.

“Through careful communication we would like to ensure that everyone involved in the Games around the world is aware of our plans. We hope thereby to assure them that, if each and every one of them follows the rules when participating in the Games, they can be held in a safe and secure manner. We hope that daily life can return to normal as soon as possible, and we would like to express our gratitude to the medical professionals, essential workers and everyone else who is working hard to ensure this. In the meantime we will continue our preparations for ensuring a safe and secure Games in the spirit of ‘Safety will be the number one priority of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

The first published Playbook for International Federations can be viewed and downloaded on olympic.organd via the IPC and Tokyo 2020 websites. Upcoming stakeholder Playbooks will be published after the respective stakeholder briefings. 

Playbook Briefing Dates

International Federations - 5 February

Broadcasters - 8 February

Athletes and Team Officials (via National Olympic Committees) - 9 February

Press - 10 February

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Olympics: Russia's doping ban for Tokyo Games finalized

Credit:  KYODO NEWS 

11:37    3 February 2021

GENEVA - Russia’s ban from the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games was finalized Tuesday after neither the World Anti-Doping Agency nor Russian authorities appealed a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport barring the country from international competition until December 2022.

WADA handed Russia a four-year ban in 2019 after implicating the Russian Anti-Doping Agency in a large-scale, sophisticated doping scheme, but the Swiss-based CAS cut the suspension to two years following an application by RUSADA, which sought the overturning of the ban.

The ruling prevents Russian teams from competing at the Tokyo Games and 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and Paralympics, while also prohibiting the use of the country's flag and anthem. But Russian athletes with no history of doping violations may still participate as neutral competitors.

In a statement, WADA said it was disappointed the CAS panel "decided not to impose all the consequences that WADA sought," including the full four-year period.

WADA said it chose not to appeal the CAS decision to the Swiss Federal Tribunal after "unanimous advice from in-house and external legal counsels" indicated it would serve "no useful purpose."

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Faster, higher, stronger? Nations weigh letting athletes jump the vaccine queue for Tokyo Games

Credit:  France24

01/02/2021 - 22:57

With organisers vowing that the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will go ahead this summer despite the ongoing global pandemic that delayed the event by a year, some nations – like Hungary, Serbia and Israel – are moving ahead with inoculating their would-be Olympians to ensure they are free to train, qualify, travel and compete. But some – including elite athletes – question whether fast-tracking young, healthy sportspeople for vaccinations should be a priority and whether it fits with Olympic values.

With vaccine delays creating hurdles in the global race for Covid-19immunity, wealthy countries are competing to secure more shots, less affluent ones are running behind and the finish line remains a speck in the distance.

But amid the fray, a growing handful of nations are controversially prioritising one cohort of young vaccination candidates that are, quite naturally, paragons of fitness: Olympic athletes, with the Tokyo Games just six months away.

On Friday, Hungary began vaccinating athletes who stand to qualify for the next two Olympic Games: Tokyo this summer – delayed a year by the pandemic and now slated to run from July 23 to August 8 – and the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, just six months later.

The Hungarian Olympic Committee said 868 athletes had been selected to receive the Moderna vaccine to facilitate their preparations in the run-up to the Games, with the order of priority among athletes decided by their respective training camps and qualification tournaments.

 Vaccinations for Olympic athletes are couched as a safety matter, but in a world of motley inoculation strategies they may also come to represent a sporting advantage for nations that can spare doses for their Olympic squads.

The Hungarian Olympic Committee was clear that two factors decided the matter for Hungary: The “safe participation in qualifiers in foreign countries" and "the loss of form due to several months' worth of skipped training due to an infection".

That decision put would-be Olympians in Hungary's immunisation queue after healthcare professionals but alongside the elderly – and ahead of the general population.

Serbia also began administering doses to its athletes on Friday, with the Balkan country's Sports Ministry and Olympic Committee saying the jabs "should not be compulsory but it is desirable so as to ensure the safety and health of athletes as well as of the general population".

 The head of Italy's Olympic Committee, for his part, has come down against prioritising athletes for Covid-19 immunity.

"We already know there are many countries where national athletes are about to be vaccinated," Giovanni Malago told La Repubblica newspaper. "We will never ask for this and we don't want it, either. An elderly person has a sacred right to be vaccinated before a 20-year-old athlete is."

Greece's Olympic Committee wants its athletes inoculated, although after healthcare workers and the elderly. A spokesman told Reuters that the committee "will continue to put pressure on the Greek government in order to have all the athletes vaccinated".

In some countries the queue is comparatively short, putting athletes at a certain advantage even without a boost from their Olympic committees – but other nations have yet to administer a single dose of vaccine.

Denmark has said that it will vaccinate all 150 athletes and 200 officials in its delegation, but the country also forecasts it will have inoculated its entire population by July 1.

Meanwhile in Israel, which leads the world in Covid-19 vaccinations administered per capita, half of the delegation headed to Tokyo has already been vaccinated. Israel's Olympic Committee said the process would be completed by the end of May, two months before the opening ceremonies in Japan.

 Seoul is waiting for Tokyo's formal decision to go ahead with the Games to make a decision for the 157 athletes so far set to compete for South Korea. "Of course the athletes should be given the vaccine if they are going to participate," Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun told Reuters.

The International Olympic Committee, for its part, has said it isn't pushing for special favours for athletes.

"We always made it clear we are not in favour of athletes jumping the queue," IOC chief Thomas Bach said last week during a virtual news conference. He said "the high-risk groups, the healthcare workers and the people who keep our society alive" must be "the first priority and this is a principle we have established".

"The reality is that it's up to each government to decide about vaccination and access to vaccination," Bach said. "That's why we've asked [National Olympic Committees] to get in touch with their respective government."

The world needs a win

While athletes training for the Games say they are struggling to put the uncertainty surrounding the event out of mind, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga last week reaffirmed his commitment to holding the Olympics and Paralympics this summer. "I am determined to achieve the games as a proof of human victory against the pandemic, a symbol of global solidarity, and to give hope and courage around the world," he told a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum on Friday.

Suga's compatriots have appeared decidedly less keen in recent surveys, in large part over concerns about the attendant influx of foreign athletes, Reuters has reported. A poll by Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper last week showed 86 percent of respondents wanted the Games postponed or cancelled.

Games organisers have yet to settle the question of whether or not to allow spectators into venues. Tokyo and its neighbouring prefectures are currently under a state of emergency to stem the spread of Covid-19, and Japan has yet to announce the start of its own vaccination campaign.

IOC member Richard Pound, the longest-serving member of the Lausanne-based committee, stirred controversy in his native Canada last month when he suggested athletes should be given priority to allow the Games to go ahead and make for "a wonderful success in the face of a worldwide pandemic". Pound estimated that about 11,000 athletes from more than 200 countries are likely to take part in the summer Games. Canada, for one, sent 314 athletes to the 2016 Olympics in Rio along with 204 coaches and support staff.

 "You're talking about, on average [per nation], 50 vaccinations, which would be a rounding error in almost every country in the world," Pound told The Canadian Press

"So my guess is the authorities and the population in each country would say, like, 'Yeah, if we can find some way to pull off these Games it would be a nice triumph in the face of what's been a [long] slog'."

"Clearly health workers come first and the really vulnerable would be a close second”, Pound said. "Then, you start triaging how you would use remaining dosages... For the very, very small numbers involved and the very symbolic meaning of a successful Games in this context, my guess – and it's only a guess – would be that most countries would be very much in favour of it."

But some Canadian athletes themselves have questioned the message that getting vaccinated early would send.

"I want to represent Canada in Tokyo," Olympic wrestling gold-medallist Erica Wiebe tweeted last month. "I want to continue to inspire the next generation of young boys and girls. But I need my community to be safe first and that means a measured risk-based vaccination plan."

Canadian Olympic racewalker Evan Dunfee worried that athletes taking priority "would sour public opinion and just turn the community against us", he told Reuters. "I think we'd come home from those Games and really be limited in our ability to use the power of sport to lift people up, to inspire and to be role models."

But some athletes have wondered aloud how it can be otherwise.

"One mustn't forget that, at the Games, 10,000 athletes will find themselves in a limited space, will talk, will eat together in the canteen," French hammer-thrower Quentin Bigot told AFP. "I don't see how an event like the Olympic Games can be held normally if the athletes aren't vaccinated," he said.

Still, France's Olympic committee has reportedly tempered its line on vaccinating athletes headed to Tokyo on the urging of the athletes themselves.

Committee chief Denis Masseglia initially expressed support for allowing France's Olympic competitors to jump the queue, noting that athletes had already been granted special dispensations to train and compete.

But French fencer Astrid Guyart, a member of the country’s Olympic athletes' committee, indicated the group discussed their concerns with Masseglia and saw a change of heart.

"For me, it poses an ethical problem. As an athlete, I don't have the feeling that I am a person who is vulnerable and so I don't have the impression we should take priority, because that is the question being posed," Guyart told AFP.

"It's out of the question that athletes should be given priority over other categories of population, but between now and the Games we can assume that it is possible to have them vaccinated without penalising other people," Masseglia said last week.

Still, he stressed that conditions at the Olympics would be "extremely difficult" for athletes who take part without the vaccine, citing long quarantines and frequent virus screening.

Cardiac concerns

With an average age of about 27 and uncommon fitness levels by definition, Olympians would normally be ranked as low-risk and correspondingly scheduled fairly late on the world's inoculation calendars. But the Belgian Olympic Committee's chief physician has flagged a medical rationale for giving Olympic athletes a leg up on vaccinations.

 Dr. Johan Bellemans, himself a former Olympic sailor for Belgium, has conceded that "we don't want our athletes to be at a competitive disadvantage" while other nations are giving theirs a literal shot in the arm. But he told Belgium's Sporza sports network that the medical argument for protecting the athletes is more important.

 "We have many athletes who got infected in the second wave. Our infection rate is now 22 percent among the Olympians, substantially higher than in the normal population," he said, noting the risks engendered by the athletes' heavy travel schedules.

 “The second medical argument is that publications from a few months ago show that an abnormality of the heart muscle could be observed in 60 percent of the young and active population, three to six months after the infection," he said. "We have athletes who have been very ill with cardiac implications. That will also happen in normal people, but when you exercise intensively with that sort of inflammation of the heart muscle, it becomes very dangerous. So we want to protect our athletes," Bellemans told Sporza.

 Team Belgium has requested 400 to 500 vaccinations for athletes and support staff, asking that Olympians be considered among the "essential professions" primed for inoculation after healthcare workers and high-risk groups.

Australian Olympic gold-medal swimmer Cate Campbell, who sits on the athletes' commission of Australia's Olympic Committee, has said she supports those headed to Tokyo "getting some sort of priority" access, being vaccinated in the country's second or third wave, if it is declared a prerequisite for competing.

"It's a tough one. I think athletes have sacrificed a lot to represent Australia ... I think we can appreciate how much sport brings to Australia. It's part of our culture and our identity," the swimmer told the Sydney Morning Herald.

 "Frontline healthcare workers obviously have to be at the front of the queue because they are exposed to this all the time. So I'm not saying we go in front of anyone like that or the high-risk or elderly," Campbell said. "But if we require the vaccine to do our job, I'd hope that would be made available before the Games. Working from home isn't an option."

"So my guess is the authorities and the population in each country would say, like, 'Yeah, if we can find some way to pull off these Games it would be a nice triumph in the face of what's been a [long] slog'."

"We have many athletes who got infected in the second wave. Our infection rate is now 22 percent among the Olympians, substantially higher than in the normal population," he said, noting the risks engendered by the athletes' heavy travel schedules.

“The second medical argument is that publications from a few months ago show that an abnormality of the heart muscle could be observed in 60 percent of the young and active population, three to six months after the infection," he said. "We have athletes who have been very ill with cardiac implications. That will also happen in normal people, but when you exercise intensively with that sort of inflammation of the heart muscle, it becomes very dangerous. So we want to protect our athletes," Bellemans told Sporza.

Team Belgium has requested 400 to 500 vaccinations for athletes and support staff, asking that Olympians be considered among the "essential professions" primed for inoculation after healthcare workers and high-risk groups.

 

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Tokyo 2020 Olympic organising committee to hold meeting over Mori comments as volunteers withdraw help

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Organising Committee is set to convene a special board meeting as early as Friday after the outcry over committee president Yoshiro Mori’s sexist comments, public broadcaster NHK reported on Tuesday.

There are no plans to discuss Mori’s resignation at the meeting but he could face a barrage of criticism over his comments, Nikkan Sports said in a separate report.

Mori has come under fire for saying last week that meetings with female participants take a long time, adding that they “get competitive” with each other. He apologised and retracted his comments, but the public’s outrage appears far from assuaged.

Following Mori’s remarks, about 440 Games volunteers have quit and local organisers have received more than 5,500 complaints, according to local media.

“We are taking this very seriously,” said Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto on Tuesday morning when asked about the resignation of the volunteers.

Daichi Oyama, 28, who withdrew from volunteering because of coronavirus concerns, said of Mori that “if every time he says something things get worse, he should quit....”

“It wasn’t just Japanese news, all the world heard what he said and there’s opposition being raised. It’s a very embarrassing thing for Japan,” he said.

But some 80,000 people are signed up to help the Summer Games, and many others are still staying on.

“That was definitely a gaffe, but Mori is old...and I think that people of that age have a tendency to look down on women, it’s a factor of their age,” said Misako Yoshizawa, 70, who teaches English part-time in Saitama prefecture and whose plans to volunteer haven’t changed despite the outcry.

“Mori is Mori, I’m not his volunteer. I’m a volunteer working to carry out the Tokyo Olympics,” she added.

Still, an online petition seeking action against Mori has garnered 140,000 signatures so far, and an editorial published on Tuesday in the daily Mainichi has called on Mori to resign.

“This is not an issue that can be closed with a retraction or an apology” the editorial read.

Sponsors have also distanced themselves. Insurance company Nippon Life Insurance Company told the daily Asahi that they were “disappointed” with the remarks and have made that clear to the organising committee.

Hiroaki Nakanishi, chairman of the influential business lobby Keidanren, initially refrained from commenting but later said: “I feel that that’s what some people are really thinking in Japan” and that “social media is terrifying” given how rapidly comments are shared and spread online.

When asked to clarify what he meant, Nakanishi said it was customary in Japan to differentiate between men and women but that thinking is outdated, according to TV Asahi.

But the comment was trending on social media by Monday morning, with people taking to Twitter express frustrations over Nakanishi’s comments as well.

“He made a sweeping statement about Japan, but I think this is what the chairman himself is thinking. He’s the same as president Mori in his inability to listen to his critics,” said one Twitter user.

Date:Feb. 9,2021

News source:Reuters

Link to this article:https://www.reuters.com/article/us-olympics-2020-mori/tokyo-2020-olympic-organising-committee-to-hold-meeting-over-mori-comments-as-volunteers-withdraw-help-idUSKBN2A908N

For reference:https://tokyo2020.org/en/news/tokyo-2020-and-gender-equality

 

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Officials warn athletes there will be ‘no absolute safety net’ for COVID risk

Credit: Sydney Morning Herald

By Phil Lutton  

February 9, 2021 — 7.45pm
 

Australia’s Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman says Tokyo-bound athletes deserve unfailing honesty from administrators ahead of the Games, including the possibility that five years of training could go up in flames if they are caught up in a COVID outbreak.

Chesterman has been spending time with the Australian swimming team on the Gold Coast, who donned masks and took COVID precautions in a full-blown training and racing simulation on Tuesday at Bond University.

That exercise was designed to introduce them to some of the conditions they are likely to face in Tokyo and get them used to the idea of expecting the unexpected at the Games, which will start from July 23 after being postponed by a year.

But little could prepare them for the emotional wrecking ball that would descend if they were forced to sit out their events if they contracted COVID, or were one of the close contacts of another athlete or official that returned a positive test.

While the protocols are yet to be finalised by organisers or the IOC, anyone that does test positive would be removed from the Olympic precinct and isolated, while the first Athlete Playbook said those in contact would have to return negative tests before they could return to competition.

That process could well mean that even athletes who have followed every rule to the letter – but had the misfortune to be in close contact with an athlete that was carrying the virus – could have their Olympic dreams dashed.

Chesterman said he wanted to be crystal clear with athletes, who he believes had earned the right to be involved in full and frank discussions in the wake of the initial postponement. That means every scenario was being put on the table, even if the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and local organisers had yet to fill in a large number of blanks around COVID-related specifics for athletes.

“I worked out after the Games were postponed that they deserved the honesty. I’ve not said anything as black and white as that but in my communication to athletes only yesterday, I’ve made sure they see the line in the Playbook that says there’s no absolute safety net,” Chesterman said.

“I’ve ensured they are fully aware of the environment they are going into and the ramifications that might be there.

“And also giving them an absolute commitment that we will do everything we can to make sure they are safe and remain COVID free before the Games, and at the Games. We have faith that the organisers and the IOC will provide a safe environment at the Games as well.”

A revised version of the Athlete Playbook will be updated in April, then again before the Games, as the IOC moves with the latest innovations and protective measures against the virus. Some athletes may be vaccinated but the majority are unlikely to have had access to treatments, so the Games are being planned accordingly.

“Those protocols haven’t been put in place yet but the sports might be in the best place to deal with that. That’s where the Playbook in April will tell us more, we’ll have to wait and see what happens. But we want to make sure everyone is safe when they arrive and they stay safe.

“It’s going to be a totally different environment at the Games, a totally different environment in the Village. But everyone I’ve spoken to says ‘we’re up for it’.”

That was the case among Australia’s best swimmers, who woke on Tuesday to find out coaches had split them into teams and organised an intense relay showdown, just a day after a pouring work into them to ensure they had to race through fatigue.

Olympic champion Kyle Chalmers wasn’t in the water as he continues to mend from shoulder surgery but made it clear he would be in Tokyo regardless of the risks and restrictions.

“Everyone just wants to race at an Olympic Games and I’m going over there to swim a couple of laps of the pool. It doesn’t matter if there are crowds there, it doesn’t matter if you have to wear a mask,” Chalmers said.

“As athletes, we’re told what to do our whole careers so we are very good at understanding situations. We’ll do whatever it takes to get back there and race.”

 
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48 minutes ago, Barcelona_'92 said:

I never thought I’d see this day - NBC will air the opening ceremony live in the morning.  On actual NBC.

(If it happens.)

https://nbcsportsgrouppressbox.com/2021/02/10/nbc-olympics-to-provide-unprecedented-network-coverage-of-tokyo-olympics-opening-ceremony/

excited_stewie_family_guy.gif

That was a welcome surprise from NBC this morning.  Glad to see them making a progressive decision.

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15 minutes ago, TorchbearerSydney said:

Q: NBC will air the opening ceremony live in the morning

Welcome to the rest of the world!

( I live in Adelaide, (basically) the same time zone as Tokyo!)

To say this is long overdue is an understatement.  But still nice to see NBC doing it.

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Transport issues for "high number" of media is pressing challenge for Tokyo 2020 organisers

Credit: Inside The Games

By Mike Rowbottom

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Finding alternative transportation for members of the "high number of accredited press" not staying at official Tokyo 2020 hotels is a key challenge for organisers of this summer’s re-scheduled Games following the likely ruling that public transport will not be available to them.

Speaking at today’s virtual briefing for media stakeholders at the Games, which sought to offer clarification on points included in the "playbook" of proposed COVID pandemic-related safety measures released earlier this month, the International Olympic Committee's head of media operations Lucia Montanarella commented:

"We are really working with Press Operation and Transport in Tokyo on the issue of people who have not booked their accommodation through Tokyo 2020.

"So we know there is a high number of accredited press who are staying in different locations.

"We are discussing right now how to cover this gap, meaning that we are fully aware that if access to public transport is not there, we need to have an alternative for these people to move around.

"One thing that is very important is that for those who are not staying in media hotels it would be recommended that you inform Press Operations of where you are staying because then we will understand how we can provide some additional services.

"Also the structure of the media transport in Tokyo is such that there are meeting points that are grouping some media hotels.

"With some luck your accommodation might be quite close to one of these points and you can be fully using the media transport system…

"The challenge now is finding solutions for some level of transport for people who have not chosen to stay in official media hotels."

Pierre Ducroy, the Olympic Games operations director, added: "We understand the language in the playbook right now is not giving you the answer you want.

"We are discussing with the Government regarding access to public transport to make sure that if there is a decision from the Government that this has to be restricted then we want to have alternative plans which we are working through right now with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee.

"We do not have yet a confirmation if some portion of the population may be or may not be allowed to travel on public transport."

Current instructions to press maintain will be prevented from using public transport "unless given permission".

Further information on this area is expected in the lead-up to the next edition of updates to the playbook that is due to be publicised in April.

Asked about who would pay the costs of the COVID-19 testing required by media and other stakeholders before and after their arrival in Japan, Tokyo 2020 Games delivery officer Hide Nakamura responded:

"Upon entry to Japan, under domestic rules, necessary tests have to be conducted, and if they are necessary the Japanese authorities will look after the cost.

"Anything additional, that will be something that we will have to consult over.

"But the test 72-hours before your coming into to Japan - that test is something you will have to cover the cost of yourself."

The press - like athletes and International Federation and technical officials - have also been banned from visiting tourist areas, shops, restaurant or bars and gyms.

Asked how journalists not in official media hotels could access food in these circumstances, Nakamura responded that further clarification would be available by April.

Acknowledging that it was an "important" and "difficult" issue, he added:

"Our current thinking is that rather than eating in restaurants there will be less contact, so I think it is possible for securing food and eating fast food.

"But we will sort out the factors with the Government and will have conclusions by April.

"This is not just applicable to press people, but all stakeholders."

Explaining the requirement for media members to fill in an activity plan for their first 14 days in Japan, Ducroy said the measure "explains precisely for the needs of your job where you need to go.

"So it is not a quarantine, it’s simply a way to monitor the activities that you will be doing in that window, that they are strictly focused on your professional duties."

"The principles of the playbook do not stop at the end of the activity plan.”

It was confirmed that even if media members arriving in Japan have had COVID-19 vaccinations, the playbook rules "will still be applicable" to them.

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On 2/9/2021 at 9:05 AM, Palette86 said:

So Mori is out, his supposed successor, one year older even, getting cold feet.

These Olympics are really like a headless chicken now. Still running around without realising they‘re actually dead.

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Kawabuchi “exhausted” after top Olympic organizing job chaos

Credit: Kyodo News

Saturday, 13 February 2021 - 22:32

TOKYO - Saburo Kawabuchi said Saturday he feels "exhausted" after the whirlwind of attention as he was considered to replace outgoing Tokyo Olympic organizing committee chief Yoshiro Mori only to turn down the position.

Kawabuchi said he was willing to take on the job Thursday after he was singled out by Mori, whose sexist remarks in a Japanese Olympic Committee meeting raised a firestorm of criticism and led to his resignation. Government and public criticism over the transparency of the former Japan Football Association president's selection, however, made Kawabuchi change his mind and turn down the job on Friday.

”I feel refreshed now, so you can rest assured...but as one would expect I feel exhausted," tweeted the 84-year-old.

The choice of Mori's successor has now gone back to the drawing board with Fujio Mitarai, the chairman of Canon Inc. and the honorary head of the organizing committee, to set up a selection panel.

 

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Good. What the organizing comittee needs now are young people. Not a bunch of old boomers with ultraconservative views. I always felt they were part of most of the problems these games (which everyday I feel more and more like they are cursed since its inception) had so many issues.

To think I was so overconfident 7 years ago when Tokyo was elected that nothing would go wrong. Japan reputation for organization skill has taken a very bad blow.

 

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Olympic venues reported safe after northeastern Japan earthquake

Credit: Kyodo News

 Sunday , 14 February 2021 - 17:55

TOKYO - Three Tokyo Olympic venues north and east of the capital were reported undamaged Sunday following a magnitude 7.3 earthquake that struck northeastern Japan the night before, the Olympic organizing committee said.

Fukushima Prefecture and neighboring Miyagi Prefecture, both hard hit by the massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, will host Olympic events to promote regional reconstruction.

Azuma Stadium, in the city of Fukushima, will host baseball and softball games, while Miyagi Stadium, northeast of Sendai, will host Olympic soccer. Another soccer venue, Ibaraki Prefecture's Kashima Stadium, was also declared undamaged as were all of their respective temporary facilities.

The organizing committee said thorough surveys of the sites would be undertaken as early as Monday and it would continue to cooperate with local governments as preparations continue for the Olympics, opening on July 23.

The starting point of the Olympic torch relay, Fukushima's J-Village national soccer training center, also appeared undamaged by the quake.

The torch relay is to commence on March 25 and the committee said it would check on the status of the relay route "as preparations go forward in cooperation with local executive committees."

 

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Seiko Hashimoto takes over as Tokyo Olympics president

It’s official. Olympic medalist Seiko Hashimoto is the new chief of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee.

“As a former athlete myself, I believe my mission is to bring about an Olympics that places priority on safety for all participants and to change the mood in society so all athletes can step on their dream stage without any doubts in their mind,” Hashimoto said at a news conference on Feb. 18 after being named the new organizing committee president. “I will seek to accomplish this mission while clearly taking the stance of ‘athletes first.’”

Hashimoto told reporters earlier that she informed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of her decision to accept the offer and submitted her resignation as state minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Regulations prohibit ministers from holding concurrent positions outside of government.

She said Suga told her to do her best so the Tokyo Olympics will become an event that all Japanese can welcome. He pledged to provide the government's total support, she said.

Suga named Upper House member Tamayo Marukawa as state minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, a post she previously held under then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Hashimoto, 56, succeeds Yoshiro Mori, 83, the former prime minister who was forced to resign after an international uproar arose over his sexist remarks.

Eight members of the candidate selection committee within the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee held their third meeting on the morning of Feb. 18 and settled on Hashimoto as their choice.

The selection committee recommended her candidacy at a meeting of executive board members of the organizing committee on the afternoon of Feb. 18. The board members approved of the choice.

A meeting of councilors of the organizing committee then formally selected Hashimoto as an executive board member because the organizing chief’s post must go to such members.

Another meeting of executive board members elected her president of the organizing committee.

“I have been given a very heavy responsibility,” Hashimoto said at that meeting. “While it was a very major decision for me to resign as a state minister, I appear at this forum because of my total commitment to making every effort for a successful Tokyo Olympics.”

Organizing committee officials also announced on Feb. 18 that Mori had resigned as both president and executive board member as of Feb. 12.

Hashimoto has been closely linked to the Olympics from the time she was born. Born five days before the Opening Ceremony of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, Hashimoto was named Seiko because her father was deeply moved by the Olympic torch relay around Japan.

She competed in seven Olympics, both winter and summer. At the 1992 Albertville Winter Olympics, she became the first Japanese woman to win a medal in speed skating, taking the bronze in the 1,500-meter event.

She was elected to the Upper House in 1995, running under the ruling Liberal Democratic Party banner. But she continued her athletic training and took part in the Atlanta Olympics the following year in a cycling event.

Hashimoto gave birth to a daughter in 2000, the year of the Sydney Olympics. The daughter’s name, Seika, is the Japanese reading of the characters for the Olympic flame.

Around that time, debate arose about the lack of maternity leave for lawmakers.

Pushed by Hashimoto’s pregnancy, the Upper House that year approved “giving birth” as a legitimate reason for being absent from a session, which served as a catalyst for parental leave for Diet members.

Date:February 18, 2021

News source:The Asahi Shimbun

Link to this article:http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14200290

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On 2/11/2021 at 4:40 AM, AustralianFan said:

Transport issues for "high number" of media is pressing challenge for Tokyo 2020 organisers

Credit: Inside The Games

By Mike Rowbottom

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Finding alternative transportation for members of the "high number of accredited press" not staying at official Tokyo 2020 hotels is a key challenge for organisers of this summer’s re-scheduled Games following the likely ruling that public transport will not be available to them.

Speaking at today’s virtual briefing for media stakeholders at the Games, which sought to offer clarification on points included in the "playbook" of proposed COVID pandemic-related safety measures released earlier this month, the International Olympic Committee's head of media operations Lucia Montanarella commented:

"We are really working with Press Operation and Transport in Tokyo on the issue of people who have not booked their accommodation through Tokyo 2020.

"So we know there is a high number of accredited press who are staying in different locations.

"We are discussing right now how to cover this gap, meaning that we are fully aware that if access to public transport is not there, we need to have an alternative for these people to move around.

"One thing that is very important is that for those who are not staying in media hotels it would be recommended that you inform Press Operations of where you are staying because then we will understand how we can provide some additional services.

"Also the structure of the media transport in Tokyo is such that there are meeting points that are grouping some media hotels.

"With some luck your accommodation might be quite close to one of these points and you can be fully using the media transport system…

"The challenge now is finding solutions for some level of transport for people who have not chosen to stay in official media hotels."

Pierre Ducroy, the Olympic Games operations director, added: "We understand the language in the playbook right now is not giving you the answer you want.

"We are discussing with the Government regarding access to public transport to make sure that if there is a decision from the Government that this has to be restricted then we want to have alternative plans which we are working through right now with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee.

"We do not have yet a confirmation if some portion of the population may be or may not be allowed to travel on public transport."

Current instructions to press maintain will be prevented from using public transport "unless given permission".

Further information on this area is expected in the lead-up to the next edition of updates to the playbook that is due to be publicised in April.

Asked about who would pay the costs of the COVID-19 testing required by media and other stakeholders before and after their arrival in Japan, Tokyo 2020 Games delivery officer Hide Nakamura responded:

"Upon entry to Japan, under domestic rules, necessary tests have to be conducted, and if they are necessary the Japanese authorities will look after the cost.

"Anything additional, that will be something that we will have to consult over.

"But the test 72-hours before your coming into to Japan - that test is something you will have to cover the cost of yourself."

The press - like athletes and International Federation and technical officials - have also been banned from visiting tourist areas, shops, restaurant or bars and gyms.

Asked how journalists not in official media hotels could access food in these circumstances, Nakamura responded that further clarification would be available by April.

Acknowledging that it was an "important" and "difficult" issue, he added:

"Our current thinking is that rather than eating in restaurants there will be less contact, so I think it is possible for securing food and eating fast food.

"But we will sort out the factors with the Government and will have conclusions by April.

"This is not just applicable to press people, but all stakeholders."

Explaining the requirement for media members to fill in an activity plan for their first 14 days in Japan, Ducroy said the measure "explains precisely for the needs of your job where you need to go.

"So it is not a quarantine, it’s simply a way to monitor the activities that you will be doing in that window, that they are strictly focused on your professional duties."

"The principles of the playbook do not stop at the end of the activity plan.”

It was confirmed that even if media members arriving in Japan have had COVID-19 vaccinations, the playbook rules "will still be applicable" to them.

Banned from public transportation? What are the Japanese playing at here? Who holds an international event and then bans international media from public transportation? 

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