COVID-19 Vaccinations Will Not Be Required For Olympic Athletes in Tokyo

Getty / Philip Fong

The Tokyo Olympics will soon take place after a year-long postponement, and as vaccinations roll out worldwide, there are many questions. As of now, and according to a plan mapped out by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), and the committee in charge of organizing Tokyo 2020, athletes and officials participating in the Games will not need to be vaccinated. According to CNN, the IOC said it will still encourage countries that do wish to vaccinate their athletes ahead of the Games to take that course.

Preliminary rules for a safe Olympic and Paralympic Games are outlined by the IOC in four different “Playbooks” published in early February – for press, for broadcasters, for international federations, and for athletes and officials – with updated versions expected by April, then June. The Playbooks can be accessed online.

In the “vaccines” sections toward the end of each of these Playbooks, the IOC writes that, when vaccinations are made available to the broader public, the committee will call for Olympic and Paralympic teams to be vaccinated. However, there is no outright requirement.

The rules outlined for those travelling to Tokyo for the Olympics and Paralympics in 2021 include the basics: wearing a mask at all times except for when eating, training, competing, sleeping, or outside and socially distanced from others; limiting public interactions; and practising hand hygiene. Participants will have to test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of their departure to Tokyo and be ready for another test upon arrival. They must also get tested and isolate if they experience symptoms once there, as well as keep track of their health daily in designated smartphone apps.

The Playbook specifically addressed to athletes and officials states that they will be tested again for COVID-19 three days before arriving at the Olympic and Paralympic Village if they first attended a pre-Games training camp. And, during the Games, routine testing will occur at least every four days. More information on COVID-19 tests is slated for release this spring. All attending parties will also have temperature checks each time they enter an Olympic or Paralympic venue.

“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,” the guidelines state. The Tokyo Games will take place from July 23 to Aug. 8, and the Paralympic Games are set to be held from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.

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