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Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Tokyo Olympic playbook sets consequences for COVID rule-breakers

Violators face possible disqualification and fines as final safeguards take shape

A security guard walks past a Tokyo 2020 Olympics sign on May 15.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Olympic organizers on Tuesday laid out the consequences for athletes who violate COVID-19 rules at the upcoming Tokyo Games, from disqualification to financial sanctions.

"We expect you to play by the rules, but if you don't, there will be sanctions that could be coming your way," Pierre Ducrey, Olympic Games operations director at the International Olympic Committee, warned at a partly virtual news conference.

Organizers the same day published the latest version of their "playbooks" for keeping the Tokyo Games safe. Hidemasa Nakamura, delivery officer for Tokyo 2020, said officials are confident that they are finally "close to the end" of such planning with fewer than 40 days before the opening ceremony.

Responding to a public clamor in Japan, where opinion polls show a majority against holding the games next month, the new rules say athletes and guests who skirt COVID-19 precautions may lose their accreditation, be disqualified, or pay a fine.

The rulebook for athletes now requires competitors to switch on the GPS function on their phones when entering Japan. It says: "In the event that an infection is found, or for activity tracking/tracing, the GPS function of your smartphone (Android/iOS) will be used to save your location information, in order to support the contact tracing process."

IOC Olympic Games Operations Director Pierre Ducrey and other officials explain the latest edition of their playbooks on June 15.   © Reuters

In addition, guests are now assigned a category based on their proximity to the Olympic Village in Tokyo, determining how often they will be tested for COVID-19. Athletes and staff residing in the village, for example, will be on the highest level requiring daily testing. Journalists and sponsors who may come into occasional contact with athletes will be tested every four days.

The organizers have also introduced two expert bodies to oversee infectious disease control and test results. Both will report to the Tokyo 2020 committee and the Japanese government.

A testing schedule was unveiled as well. Athletes will be able to submit their specimens at either 9 a.m. or 6 p.m. and will receive their results 12 hours later. If they test positive, they will go through PCR tests at a polyclinic at the Olympic Village. They will learn those results three to five hours later.

Brian McCloskey, chair of an independent expert panel, told reporters that the combination of vaccinations and other protective measures such as frequent testing will "give a significant reassurance that these games will go ahead in a safe and secure way."

However, organizers dodged some questions on the details. On the financial penalties, they said they did not have any numbers yet. Christophe Dubi, the IOC's Olympic Games executive director, suggested fines are just one tool in the "tool box when it comes to sanctions."

Asked what would happen if a medalist were to violate the rules, Dubi said he did not want to "speculate."

Preparations for the games have been proceeding. Tokyo organizers have secured an additional 20,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines for those involved, including some of the 70,000 volunteers who will be in close contact with the athletes.

Athletes began getting their shots on June 1, and 95% of the competitors are now expected to be inoculated beforehand.

On Tuesday, John Coates, a vice president of the International Olympic Committee and chair of Tokyo 2020's coordination commission, arrived in Japan. He caused a stir in May when he said that the games could "absolutely" proceed even if Tokyo remained under a coronavirus state of emergency.

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