Here’s what medical experts say could improve COVID-19 security measures at the Tokyo Olympics


  • An Asahi Shimbun The survey found that 83% of respondents are against holding the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
  • 15,000 athletes and staff from more than 200 countries will gather for two weeks for the games.
  • The Tokyo Association of Medical Practitioners has called for the cancellation of the Olympics in a letter published by Reuters.
  • Visit the Insider homepage for more stories.

In spite protested by its citizens, increasing COVID cases, and a vaccination rate nationwide of only 20%, Japan is moving forward and hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics from late July to early September.

The country’s contract with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which was signed in 2013, gives only the latter the power to cancel the event, according to a BBC analysis of its cancellation clause.

Although the latter manual for participants in the Olympics and Paralympics says its security policies are “based on science and expert advice,” medical experts around the world believe the current COVID-19 mitigation plan is not strong enough to prevent transmission groups and can potentially create new strains.

“With the vaccination rate being slow [in Japan], There is a risk of mutated strains originating in Japan, ”Kenyu Sumie, president of the Japanese Association of Physicians and Dentists, said in an interview with the South China Morning Post. “When that happens, there is a risk of spreading of mutated races into Japan, so I believe at this point that it is impossible to keep the Olympics safe.”

Safety protocols do not adequately protect athletes, staff or citizens

Tokyo 2020 participants are not required to be vaccinated to participate or participate.

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published an encouraging July 1 article reassessment of the CIO’s current COVID-19 mitigation plan: “We believe that the CIO’s determination to proceed to the Olympic Games is not informed by the best scientific evidence. Game books argue that athletes participate at their own risk, while failing to distinguish the various levels of risk faced by athletes and to recognize the limitations of measures such as temperature screens and face coverage. ”

Doctors also demanded that weak security protocols do not adequately protect trainers, officers, hotel staff, workers, volunteers (many who have quit), and health workers who have been hired to treat intensive care. A spokesman at St. Luke’s International Hospital he told TIME that he had been approached to coordinate the care of the Olympics, but there had been no progress since the end of June.

Mitigation measures may not be strong enough to prevent outbreaks and new strains

Many sporting events took place during the pandemic, with a limited number of coronavirus cases. NEJM attributes the success of these events to rigorous and informed protocols based on an understanding of air transmission, asymptomatic diffusion, and the definition of close contacts.


However, cases can occur no matter how the planning is done.

Mitigation measures are intended to minimize transmission, not to eradicate it. Ideal conditions, according to NEJM, would include single hotel rooms for athletes, at least daily testing, and portable technology to monitor contacts, all supported by a rigorous contact tracing.

While tests will be frequent, athletes will still be in danger. Routine temperature and screening for symptoms do not help to identify asymptomatic or presymptomatic participants, who may spread the infection before its detection.

Mitigation measures should also be adapted for each sport, some of which are more risky due to location and level of contact. However, these countermeasures are not currently explained in the Olympic manual.

Although tests and tracking of contracts are in place, many countermeasures are encouraged by the CIO rather than required and place the responsibility for mitigation on individuals. While all participants are invited to wear masks and social distance, the CIO did not provide them with individual rooms or specific measures of social distance for common areas, such as cafeterias.

See NEJM comparison between CIO best practices and current mitigation measures here.

Insider reached out to the CIO for comment.

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