The International Olympic Committee has offered to recruit as many doctors and nurses from around the world as necessary to ensure that the Tokyo Olympics are safe and to help Japan fight a fourth wave of Covid infections.
The IOC’s promise comes amid growing concern in Japan that the arrival of 70,000 athletes, officials, journalists and support personnel to the country could act as a great diffuser of new variants and put enormous pressure on medical services.
Organizers had initially planned to have around 10,000 medical personnel on standby for the Games, but have cut that down to 7,000 due to the need to manage the ongoing outbreaks. But Christophe Dubi, executive editor of the Olympics, promised that the IOC would now make up any shortfalls as part of what he called a “formidable solidarity effort.”
Dubi said: “There is an immense desire to help. The IOC is very clear that we are going to help obtain the number that is necessary as established by Tokyo 2020 and the health authorities. As soon as they tell us, ‘This is the number we need for the fever clinic,’ we’ll look it up. This is a formidable solidarity effort to make the Games safe and secure, something we have always said was our number one priority. “
Dubi also praised the efforts of some countries, such as the United Kingdom, which have pledged to go beyond what is necessary to ensure that their athletes do not pose any risk in Japan. As revealed by The Guardian, there have been fears that British athletes will be included in Japan’s red list, although they now appear to have declined following Team GB’s promise to vaccinate 100% of their competitors.
“What the countries affected by the variants have committed to doing, and they give them credit for, is have much more rigorous testing and additional measures to make sure they can get access to Japan,” he said. “They have offered a number of solutions, including 100% of their delegations vaccinated, which is a good measure to limit the risk.”
Dubi also confirmed that the number of spectators at the Olympics would be decided by the end of the month, with current regulations allowing 50% of capacity or 5,000, whichever is lower. “Do I prefer to have stadiums full with everyone screaming? Yes. But do we have a very good answer if this is not the fact? Absolutely.
“What we are doing is very exciting for everyone, for the audience from outside who will be able to contribute inside. But also from the stadium to the outside world, uniting the athletes with their family and friends, really splendid things are emerging. So I’m not worried, it’s going to be quite an experience ”.
On Tuesday it was confirmed that the journalists would also be tracked by GPS to ensure that they did not deviate from predetermined activity plans during their first 14 days in Japan. When it was pointed out to Dubi that it was impossible for journalists covering news to predict movements with such precision, he said there could be no “exceptions.”
“What we owe to our Japanese hosts is absolute respect for the playbooks,” he said. “These are designed to protect us all, they must be followed every step of the way.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism