“I think a lot of people had this vested belief that once the vaccine started to roll out, that would really spell the end of Covid and what we would see is that transmission rates would start to plummet, things would get more controlled and we would have some ability to go back to a more normal lifestyle,” Jason Kindrachuk, an infectious illness skilled at the University of Manitoba in Canada, tells CNN Sport.

“The fact is that even with good vaccine rollouts in a number of regions of the world, we’re having trouble getting a hold on transmission.”

Athletes glad to attend their flip

Bach additionally mentioned organizers would “undertake a great effort” to make sure that “Olympic participants and visitors will arrive (in Tokyo) vaccinated,” whereas additionally rejecting ideas that vaccinations can be obligatory for athletes — one thing echoed by Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto throughout a convention name on Wednesday.

Where Olympic contributors rank in the precedence record for a vaccine is more likely to be a subject of rivalry. Among athletes, the basic sentiment is that they’re ready to attend.

“I think everyone — as far as I can tell on Team USA — is on the same page,” steeplechaser Colleen Quigley, who competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics, tells CNN Sport.

“Yes, we want to get vaccinated so we can safely go to the Games and we can safely have an Olympic Games, but also realizing that we’re not first on the list.

“There are loads of folks, outdated folks and people who find themselves working in grocery shops and who’re academics and in hospitals — all these people who find themselves on the entrance traces, they undoubtedly are going to be in entrance of us.

“We’re all pretty young, healthy individuals. And we’re just going to wait our turn. I feel as much as we want it, we realize we’re not going to be first in line. And I think everyone’s totally fine with that.”

Colleen Quigley (right) competes in the women's 3000m steeplechase final at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
There is also logistic hurdles in the case of vaccinating athletes on a worldwide scale — particularly given how vaccine entry, typically tied to nationwide wealth, varies round the world.

“We already have issues in high-income regions of trying to get vaccines rolled out in areas that bought millions of doses and trying to figure out: how do we actually target people that are high risk versus those that maybe don’t fall politically within that sphere of high-risk disease?” says Kindrachuk.

“Then you start looking at more middle- or low-income areas of the world — they’re not even at a point of being able to think about what the vaccine rollout is going to look like because of the logistical concerns, storage concerns and the fact that the majority of doses have already been bought up by the wealthiest countries in the world.”

When contacted concerning vaccine rollout points, the IOC pointed to a press release launched on Tuesday outlining a “toolbox of Covid-19 countermeasures” to be applied throughout the Games, together with “immigration procedures, quarantine measures, testing, personal protective equipment, contact tracing and vaccinations.”

Pulling off Tokyo 2020 will be a logistical nightmare ... and the clock is ticking

“Vaccines are one of many tools available in the toolbox, to be used at the appropriate time and in the appropriate way,” mentioned the assertion.

“The IOC continues to strongly support the priority of vaccinating vulnerable groups, nurses, medical doctors and everyone who is keeping our societies safe.

“The IOC will work with the NOCs [National Olympic Committees] to encourage and help their athletes, officers and stakeholders to get vaccinated of their residence nations, in step with nationwide immunization pointers, earlier than they go to Japan.

“This is to contribute to the safe environment of the Games, but also out of respect for the Japanese people, who should be confident that everything is being done to protect not only the participants, but also the Japanese people themselves.”

Logistical problem

Tokyo 2020 organizers advised CNN Sport that conferences have been held final yr about how the Games might function even with out vaccinations happening, including: “It is our understanding that vaccination policies are being formulated by the government of Japan and other bodies.”

More than 11,000 athletes from over 200 nations took half in the Rio Olympics. Add in assist employees and media personnel and the IOC has a significant logistical and well being problem on its arms in the age of coronavirus, particularly with the Games simply six months away.

Japan and IOC determined to hold Tokyo Olympics despite cancellation rumors

“We can’t just think about this in terms of the athletes, because it’s not only the athletes that that are going to be a part of the Olympics — you have the organizing committees that are involved, you have all the people that are providing support, you have all the trainers,” says Kindrachuk.

“All of those are potential wheelbarrows for the virus coming into the community … You look at this idea of putting people into an international location from all over the world — we only need one individual to kick off that transmission chain.”

Tokyo was positioned underneath a state of emergency earlier this month as Covid-19 instances reached report ranges, and throughout Japan members of the public are involved about holding the Games given the present state of the pandemic.
A latest ballot by Japanese public broadcaster NHK discovered that 77% of respondents felt the Olympics ought to be postponed once more or utterly canceled, with solely 16% in favor of holding them this yr
The Australian Open, which will get underway on February 8, has supplied a snapshot of the potential difficulties dealing with Olympic organizers, who say they’ve been monitoring occasions in Melbourne in addition to sporting competitions elsewhere.

A complete of 72 gamers have been positioned underneath strict, 14-day lodge quarantines forward of the event following constructive assessments on their flights. Others have been allotted 5 hours every day to coach in bio-secure bubbles.

Following issues that these quarantining gamers can be deprived throughout the event, organizers amended the warm-up schedule and likewise introduced that observe classes, gyms and ice baths can be prioritized for gamers who had been positioned underneath onerous quarantine.
There’s little question that lowering onsite transmission will probably be one among the principal challenges dealing with Olympic organizers, and leagues like the NBA have demonstrated how sporting “bubbles” can function successfully.
But solely 22 groups have been current in the NBA bubble, every with a roster no bigger than 15.
“It will be very difficult to eliminate infection risk with a group that size,” Professor Alastair Grant of the University of East Anglia tells CNN Sport, reflecting on the problem of attempting to deal with 1000’s of athletes dwelling collectively in the Olympic Village the place opponents are historically based mostly.

“If you lock people up in their rooms as they have done for the Australian Open, you can reduce the chance of that happening. But it’s really very hard to control transmission in a large group, communal-living fashion.”

Organizers insist that the Tokyo Olympics will get underway on July 23.

Bach bullish

As they proceed to guage the way to host the Olympics safely, organizers have additionally needed to quash experiences saying the Games will probably be canceled altogether.

Last week, the Times of London, citing an unnamed senior member of the ruling coalition, mentioned Japanese authorities had privately concluded that the Olympics couldn’t proceed amid the pandemic — a report labeled as “categorically untrue” by the IOC.

Tokyo 2020 organizers, in the meantime, provided assurance that they have been “fully focused on hosting the Games this summer.”

At a press convention on Wednesday, Bach reiterated that the IOC is “confident” of delivering the Games safely.

“We are not speculating on whether the games will take place, we are working on how the Games will take place,” he mentioned, including that “more than 7,000 sports events have been organized by the international federations this winter … and none of them developed into a hotspot (of infection).”

Meanwhile, the ultimate inventive swimming qualification occasion forward of the Olympics attributable to be held in Tokyo in March has been postponed till May amid journey restrictions in Japan, organizers introduced on Thursday.

The occasion, initially scheduled to happen from March 4-7 at the Tokyo Aquatics Center, was additionally set to double up as an Olympic check occasion with Covid-19 countermeasures in place.

CNN’s Aleks Klosok and Homero De La Fuente contributed to this report.

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