International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has announced a series of measures designed to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission during medal ceremonies at Tokyo 2020.
Athletes who finish on the podium at the Olympic Games, which get under way in Japan in nine days’ time, will collect their own medals from a tray rather than having them placed over their heads.
Bach revealed that medal presenters would be required to wear disinfected gloves, and will place the gold, silver and bronze gongs on a tray. The recipient will then pick them up and place them around their own necks.
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Under the measures outlined in the playbooks, the strict rules the IOC and organisers have installed for the Games, the athlete receiving the medal and the dignitary presenting it will both be required to wear a mask.
The move contrasts with the process used by UEFA to hand out medals following Italy’s win over England in the Euro 2020 final last weekend.
At Wembley on Sunday night UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin handed out winners and runners-up medals to the two teams and did not wear a face covering when doing so.
Speaking following a meeting with Japanese prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, Bach restated his belief that Tokyo 2020 would be “safe and secure” despite rising coronavirus cases in the city.
Earlier this week an outbreak of cases was discovered at a hotel where Brazilian team members were staying ahead of the Games.
Seven staff at the hotel in Hamamatsu, around 250km south-west of Tokyo, tested positive and a city official confirmed that 31 members of the Brazilian delegation had been separated from other guests. None of the team have tested positive.
Bach believes that the Games will provide an opportunity for the world to show solidarity during the pandemic.
“These will be historic a Olympic Games,” he said, “for the way the Japanese people overcame so many challenges in the last couple of years, the great east Japan earthquake and now the coronavirus pandemic.”
Tokyo won the right to host the Olympic Games in 2013, with a bid designed to showcase Japan’s recovery from the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster it suffered in March 2011.
Originally planned to be held last year, the coronavirus pandemic led to the postponement of the Games and continues to have an impact on the event, which will be played out in empty stadiums.
Japanese prime minister Suga urged visitors to Tokyo to adhere to local restrictions, designed to keep them and the public safe.
“To gain the understanding of our people, and also for the success of the Tokyo 2020 Games, it is absolutely necessary that all participants take appropriate actions and measures including counter-measures against the pandemic,” Suga said.
As the host of the Games, I do hope that the IOC will make efforts to ensure that all athletes and stakeholders will fully comply with these measures.
Around 8,000 Olympics-related staff arrived in Japan in the first two weeks of July, and of that number only three had tested positive for coronavirus.
Bach said: “Billions of people around the globe will be glued to their screens and they will admire the Japanese people for what they have achieved under these very difficult circumstances.”
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