‘No cheering’: Tokyo outlines rules for Olympics to go ahead

Constant tests for Covid-19, 14 days of restricted movement and a ban on cheering for athletes await attendees at the Tokyo Olympics as the organisers laid out a “playbook” to enable the Games to go ahead.

According to the document sent to international sports federations on Wednesday, violators risk being kicked out of the Games, and the rules will apply even to those who are vaccinated against the virus.

The guidelines suggest that disputes about Covid tests and hygiene violations could become a big feature of Tokyo 2020 and show the extreme measures the organisers are taking to avoid cancelling the Games.

With such tough measures for participants, it is increasingly unlikely that international fans will be able to attend the Tokyo Games, which were postponed from 2020 to this summer. A decision about spectators is expected in the next couple of months.

“We know these Olympic Games will be different in a number of ways,” said Christophe Dubi, executive director of the International Olympic Committee. “For all Games participants, there will be some conditions and constraints that will require flexibility and understanding.”

Tokyo 2020’s first “playbook” is aimed at international sports federations and technical officials. The organisers have promised further guides for broadcasters, athletes, team officials and media. It is not clear whether they will be subject to different rules.

The constraints will start two weeks before an official travels to the Games, when they will be required to download a smartphone app and start sending daily temperature reports.

Participants will need to submit an activity plan for their first two weeks in Japan, limited to Olympic venues and accommodation, and provide a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours before flying to the country.

On arrival, attendees can expect another Covid-19 test at the airport, followed by a swift transfer to their accommodation, without using public transport.

During the Games there will be further tests for the virus, plus requirements to stay two metres away from athletes, one metre away from others and wear a face mask at all times.

There are strict rules on supporting athletes. “Support athletes by clapping and not singing or chanting,” the guidelines instruct. “Avoid unnecessary forms of physical contact such as hugs, high-fives and handshakes.”

Tokyo 2020 organisers have said they are planning the Games on the basis that those taking part will not have been vaccinated but, according to the playbook, a number of national Olympic committees intend to inoculate their athletes.

The rules state: “You will not be required to have received a vaccine in order to participate in the Games — and all of the rules outlined in this playbook will apply, whether or not you have received the vaccine.”

Japan on Tuesday extended a Covid-19 state of emergency in its big cities for another month but the government of prime minister Yoshihide Suga has vowed that the Games will go ahead.

New cases of the virus have fallen from about 6,000 a day in January to about 3,000 in recent days but the country’s medical system remains under pressure and vaccinations have not begun.

The Tokyo 2020 rules make clear that violations could lead to expulsion from the Games or even from Japan. “Repeated or serious failures to comply with these rules may result in the withdrawal of your accreditation and right to participate in the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” they say.

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