IOC tells Olympians that mandated COVID-19 waiver 'standard practice' in sports

Olympic athletes were told by the IOC on Thursday that a waiver they must sign releasing Tokyo organizers from liability for COVID-19 issues was "standard practice" for major sports events.

Organization says form provides transparency, ensures informed athlete consent

Brazilian swimmer Marcela Cunha looks at the spot where fellow swimmer Larissa Oliveira got her Pfizer COVID-19 shot in May. On Thursday, the IOC explained its rationale for its mandatory COVID-19 waiver for Olympians. (Silvia Izquierdo/The Associated Press)

Olympic athletes were told by the IOC on Thursday that a waiver they must sign releasing Tokyo organizers from liability for COVID-19 issues was "standard practice" for major sports events.

The issue was raised when IOC president Thomas Bach took questions to cap a two-day online conference hosted by the official Olympic commission representing athletes.

"I know this is a concern for a number of you," Bach said, before asking IOC chief operating officer Lana Haddad to give what he called "an expert's answer."

The waiver is included in the traditional entry form Olympic athletes must sign, which was "updated to include COVID-19 related consideration," Haddad said.

"This is really to provide transparency and ensure the informed consent from the games participants," she explained. "The entry forms are consistent with the standard practice of all other big event organizers. And the forms are within the framework of the law, if I may add."

WATCH | Canada's Dr. Njoo encourages athlete vaccination:

Njoo comments on sending athletes to Olympics

4 months ago
Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, comments on Canada sending athletes to the Tokyo Olympics. 2:44

Athlete groups not formally recognized by the IOC have argued that too much risk and responsibility is being placed on the 11,000 competitors set to take part in the July 23-Aug. 8 Tokyo Olympics. The games will bring tens of thousands more coaches, officials, media and other support workers into Japan.

The IOC and Japan's government insist the games will be safe and secure with participants kept mostly isolated from the general public.

Tokyo is currently in a state of emergency and fewer than 5 per cent of Japanese people have been vaccinated. The IOC claims at least 80 per cent of people staying in the Olympic village at Tokyo Bay will have been vaccinated.

"No government, no health authority can or has taken over guarantees against infections," Haddad told athletes. "This is a risk that we all bear. We are all following the same rules."

Olympic organizers have published so-called playbooks of health protocols all games attendees must follow and which are regularly updated.

The guide for athletes notes that "despite all the care taken, risks and impacts may not be fully eliminated, and therefore you agree to attend the Olympic and Paralympic Games at your own risk."

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?