Tokyo Olympics push ahead with latest 'Playbook' during Japan's state of emergency

Local organizers and the International Olympic Committee pushed ahead Wednesday with plans to open the postponed Tokyo Olympics in just under three months, unveiling the latest set of rule books to show how the games can be held during a pandemic.

Plans for combatting COVID-19 at Summer Games to be unveiled throughout week

Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike and Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto wear face masks as they attend the grand start of the torch relay in March. The IOC and local organizers are set to unveil their latest guidelines for holding a safe Olympics amid a pandemic throughout the week. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Pool/Getty Images)

Local organizers and the International Olympic Committee pushed ahead Wednesday with plans to open the postponed Tokyo Olympics in just under three months, unveiling the latest set of rule books to show how the games can be held during a pandemic.

The timing of the second edition of the "Playbooks" is not ideal. The version for Olympic athletes is out Wednesday, with similar guides for other participants out on Friday.

Tokyo, Osaka and several others areas came under a third state of emergency this week, and the death toll in Japan from COVID-19 has passed 10,000. The numbers are good by global standards, but poor compared with other places in Asia such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand or South Korea.

The state of emergency has closed department stores, theme parks, and bars and restaurants serving alcohol. It also has forced baseball games to be played in empty stadiums after having allowed fans for much of the pandemic.

Polls consistently show 70-80 per cent in Japan think the Olympics should not be held.

Only 1 per cent of the Japanese population has been vaccinated and that number will still be small when the Olympics open on July 23. So far, officials say Japanese athletes have not been vaccinated.

WATCH | Explaining the 1st Playbook:

The IOC released their Olympic Playbook: What does that mean?

1 year ago
Duration 1:37
With less than six months to go to the Tokyo Olympics, organizers have said the Games will go on no matter what. Now, they've released some preliminary guidelines explaining how that will happen.

This contrasts with many of the 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes entering Japan who — encouraged by the IOC — will have shots. As will thousands of judges, officials, sponsors, media and broadcasters.

This version of the Playbooks will offer more details than the first edition in February, but much of the specific planning will remain in flux until the final update comes out in June.

Though vaccines are now available, the strategy for the Olympics is geared around holding the games in a "bubble" as if there were no vaccines.

Organizers are not expected to announce until June if fans will be allowed into venues — and if so, how many. Fans from abroad have already been banned. The decision on venue capacity was promised to come to this month by organizing committee President Seiko Hashimoto, but has been pushed back.

Taro Kono, the minister in charge of vaccination, suggested earlier this month that empty venues seemed likely. Ticket sales were to account for $800 million US in revenue.

Organizers are expected to announce daily testing for athletes, up from once every four days in the early edition. They are also expected to drop a 14-day quarantine, allowing athletes to train upon arrival. Athletes will be required to stay in the Olympic Village on Tokyo Bay, and venues and training areas.

Japan's Kyodo news agency, citing unnamed sources, said athletes and staff will have to be tested twice within 96 hours before leaving home. They will also be tested upon arrival in Japan.

Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the Tokyo organizing committee, said this week that 500 nurses were being requested for the games. Japanese television TBS on Tuesday, without citing a source, said organizers had contacted 30 hospitals to care for athletes who fall ill.

WATCH | 1st Playbook unveiled:

Olympic officials unveil 1st COVID-19 ‘playbook’

1 year ago
Duration 1:57
Olympic officials have unveiled the first in a series of ‘playbooks’ for how they'll keep the upcoming Tokyo Games safe during the pandemic. The guide dictates how people can travel, where they can go and even how they can cheer.

The British Medical Journal earlier this month, under an editorial titled: "Reconsider this Summer's Olympic and Paralympic Games," said mass gatherings such as the Olympics are still neither "safe nor secure."

The editorial read in part: "Holding Tokyo 2020 for domestic political and economic purposes — ignoring scientific and moral imperatives — is contradictory to Japan's commitment to global health and human security."

The cost of the Olympics is officially $15.4 billion although several government audits suggest it is much larger. All but $6.7 billion is public money.

The IOC depends on selling broadcast rights for 73 per cent of its income, and the postponement has stalled payments. Broadcast income amounted to about $4 billion in the latest four-year Olympic cycle, at least half from the U.S. network NBC.

IOC President Thomas Bach is expected to be in Hiroshima on May 17 to greet the torch relay, although he said last week his plans were still tentative.

Bach's arrival would come just days after the latest state of emergency ends on May 11. Opposition lawmakers in Japan's national legislature have suggested Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga scheduled the state of emergency to accommodate Bach.

The torch relay, which began on March 25 in Fukushima in northeastern Japan, has been detoured several times this month and was forced to run in an empty city park in Osaka. It was also rerouted in Matsuyama City Ehime prefecture.

It will be banned altogether this weekend on the Okinawa island of Miyakojima. The small island has only one hospital. The relay will run through other locations on Okinawa.

WATCH | Answers to key questions surrounding the Tokyo Olympics:

Answers to key questions surrounding Tokyo Olympics

1 year ago
Duration 3:41
There’s less than 100 days to go until the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, which are full steam ahead despite the pandemic. Here are the answers to the biggest questions surrounding the competition.

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