New Olympic rules make soft quarantine must for Indian athletes ahead of Tokyo 2020

This is over and above the requirement of everyday Covid testing, apart from going into a sort of voluntary isolation, for a week before flying out. 

Published: 19th June 2021 02:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th June 2021 12:53 PM   |  A+A-

Workers paste the overlay on the wall of the National Stadium, where opening ceremony and many other events are scheduled for the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics. (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: As it stands, Olympic-bound athletes and other stakeholders flying out to Tokyo from India will have to undergo compulsory ‘physical distancing’ for at least ‘three days’ upon landing.

This is over and above the requirement of everyday Covid testing, apart from going into a sort of voluntary isolation, for a week before flying out. 

This is according to a new three page document dated June 18. These new set of guidelines — not in the final set of Playbooks for Athletes — is a likely response to a more virulent variant of the coronavirus that’s been seen in multiple countries, including India and the UK.

“The Japanese Government,” the document, a copy of which is it with this daily, notes, “like many governments, has put in place specific rules for travellers from selected travellers, where different variants of Covid-19 in each country have been identified, to try and control the virus and stop the spread.”

Attempts to contact both Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and International Olympic Committee (IOC) went in vain. 

The document has divided 11 countries — Afghanistan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in one group and Bangladesh, Egypt, Malaysia, UK and Vietnam in another group — and have singled athletes travelling from these countries to an ‘an additional set of rules’.

If those  rules are enforced (see box), the plans of many an Olympic-bound athlete from the country could potentially be upset. 

For example, the Indian women’s hockey side are scheduled to play two hockey matches against two of the world’s best sides before their opener against The Netherlands on July 24.

If a mandatory three day physical distancing guideline is going to be in play — the new rules say ‘for three days after your arrival in Japan, you will not be able to physically interact with anyone from another team, delegation or country’ including training with them — those practice matches may not go ahead.

Hockey India didn’t want to comment with respect to the new document. 

Even if some of India’s athletes (shooters, sailors, others like Neeraj Chopra) are outside the country and this may not be subject to these rules, the country’s boxers, table tennis players as well as athletes who have pencilled the Inter-State Championships to target qualifying timings could all be affected. 

It’s not just India’s athletes who might be affected if the Japanese government, who have repeatedly kept changing coronavirus related protocols for athletes, stick to the new guidelines.

A majority of tennis players (including Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina who will train in the UK post Wimbledon) as well as some of the world’s best athletes, thanks to the Gateshead/London Diamond League, may all suffer.

While Wimbledon runs from June 28 to July 11, the Gateshead/ London Diamond League is on July 13. Because UK is also included in the red list, athletes coming from there could also be subjected to similar rules.

Full story:

New Tokyo 2020 rules

  • Everyday testing for a week before leaving.

  • Three days physical distancing after reaching Tokyo.

  • Applies to all athletes, irrespective of vaccination status.

  • Tennis players coming from UK will also be affected.

  • 11 countries in two groups, likely identified because of a more virulent variant of the virus.

  • Countries Group: 1) Afghanistan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka. Group 2) Bangladesh, Egypt, Malaysia, UK, Vietnam.


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