Are the measures against Covid-19 at the Tokyo Olympics enough?

Are the measures against Covid-19 at the Tokyo Olympics enough?

Since July 1st there have been over seventy cases of coronavirus infections among the staff at the Tokyo Olympics and also involved some athletes. What are the measures to stop them?

(Photo: Ryunosuke Kikuno on Unsplash) The Tokyo Olympics are close, very little by now. And, as they say in these cases, everything is ready. The photos of the Italian athletes leaving in the past few hours reminded us of this, among other things. But the bated breath is not just for the start of the competitions. With the pandemic still underway and the cases that have begun to gallop in many countries, thanks to the spread of the varied delta, there is fear for what will happen with Covid-19. There are fears that the Olympics could become a driving force for cases of infections, and critical voices have been raised from many quarters about how much the measures in place will be able to keep the coronavirus at bay.

That it is impossible to imagine a Covid free event is clear to everyone, and the already reported cases of infections related to the Olympics demonstrate this: since July 1st there have been over seventy, and also involved some athletes. The fear of not being able to contain the outbreaks is such that even Toshiro Muto, head of the Tokyo 2020 committee, a few hours after the start of the games has not even ruled out their cancellation.

The measures against infections

The anti-Covid-19 measures taken for the Olympics are different, inside and outside the Olympic village. The very decision to ban the presence of the public at competitions is a major measure against the virus. To which are added marginally those implemented after the declaration of a state of emergency in Tokyo, in effect until August 22, such as the closure of bars and restaurants at 8 pm and the ban on the sale of alcohol.

The purpose, it is clear, is to discourage occasions for gatherings and gatherings that may favor the spread of the virus. Also discouraged during the stages of the traditional Olympic torch relay, which took place following a list of anti-contagion measures not very different from that which the athletes who participate in the games have been and will be subjected to. Basically these are the usual measures, such as spacing, hygiene, masks, to which more particular notes are added. Anyone involved in the event is invited for example not to speak aloud and the invitation for the torchbearers, as well as for the staff, is to stay away from risky occasions in the two weeks preceding their performance, eat out as well as attend. - needless to say - crowded places. It is also forbidden to eat at the same table for the staff, and if you really have to avoid talking.

Obviously, the indications also concern the monitoring of health conditions at the time and during the two weeks preceding the event. Monitoring that will be particularly close for athletes and entrusted to an app.

The rules for the athletes

The list of rules to follow for the athletes - and in general all the participants in the games - is in fact very long. The declared intent is so much to protect both the protagonists and participants of the Olympics and Paralympics from Covid and obviously also Japan and its inhabitants from new possible external pressures to the epidemic, also in consideration of the fact that compared to other countries disease on the population so far - currently fully vaccinated is about a quarter - has been contained (although here too, as elsewhere, in recent days we are witnessing an increase in cases).

The number one rule of the Athletes and Officials Playbook, developed by the Olympic and Paralympic committee - criticized in recent months by some experts for lack of evidence-based risk assessments - is simple and clear: minimize interactions with non-participants. games and comply with those strictly necessary, regular, pertaining to one's own bubble, in compliance with the basic anti-contagion rules.

For this reason too, a of the recommendations addressed to athletes and their entourage is to submit (and abide by) the clear plans of all their planned and possible movements, to use the transport provided by the games and to justify any use of public transport, generally bandits. Because in practice, at least the participants are highly supervised and closely followed (with dedicated on-site assistants), even well before their arrival in Tokyo or in the other game locations.

The apps on the pitch / h3> Generally speaking, we talk about monitoring that begins two weeks before arrival at the destination, through the daily recording of the temperature. The monitoring, once arrived at the destination (and obviously having passed the health checks, including repeated tests at departure and arrival, after which three days of quarantine are foreseen, and in theory other tests on a daily basis with antigenic on saliva during their stay), they also make use of the use of two apps, Ocha and Cocoa.

The first is an app designed to manage the logistical and bureaucratic aspects of entering and staying in Japan, but not only . For example, it is through the Ocha app (Online check-in and health report app) that athletes record their general health and temperature on a daily basis. Cocoa (Contact confirming app), on the other hand, is an app designed more for tracking activities (a sort of Immune, but hopefully more successful one would say), for which the activation of the GPS function is also required. On the vaccine front, although they are not required for participation in the games, the organization invites everyone to provide, in accordance with vaccination policies and campaigns in the countries of origin and estimates that over 80% of the residents of the Olympic and Paralympic villages will be vaccinated. .

There are many rules and procedures, inside and outside the competition venues, but as mentioned, critical voices or at least worried about the effectiveness of these measures have been raised for some time. They come from local health experts, such as those collected by Time for example, but not only, and they are doubtful not so much for the effectiveness of the measures in themselves, but for the fact that in an event of such large dimensions, albeit small, the risk (which can never be zero) exists. In two directions: on the one hand, the fear is that many people from abroad could bring Sars-Cov-2 to the country, on the other hand that the virus could also infiltrate games. But even just that the same games become occasions for local gatherings (as the recent Europeans have been with us, with all the fears connected) and thus a fuse for new outbreaks.

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