IOC, Tokyo Olympics to unveil rule book for beating pandemic

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The Olympic rings are seen at the empty Odaiba waterfront in Tokyo, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. The Tokyo Games, postponed in the midst of a pandemic, are scheduled to open on July 23. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

TOKYO – Remember the word: Playbook.

This is the rule book that the IOC and Tokyo organizers are set to roll out next week to explain how 15,400 Olympic and Paralympic athletes and tens of thousands of others will try to safely enter Japan when the Olympics open in just under six months.

Organizers and the International Olympic Committee are finally going public with their planning, hoping to push back against reports the Olympics will be canceled with Tokyo and much of Japan still under a state of emergency with COVID-19 cases rising.

The rollout at Olympic headquarters in Switzerland is planned for Feb. 4, with Tokyo likely to present on Feb. 5.

“We created four different scenarios, one that had travel restrictions, clusters — to one where the pandemic was nearly gone,” Lucia Montanarella, head of IOC media operations, explained Tuesday for a panel discussion held by the International Sports Press Association.

“The present scenario is very much like one of those that we'd created, with the pandemic still among us, and some countries being able to contain it, some not.”

The playbook will be about creating safe bubbles in Tokyo, and will be updated with changing protocols as the July 23 opening gets closer. The Paralympics are schedule to open on Aug. 24.

Athletes and those traveling to Japan — coaches, judges, media, broadcasters, VIPS — are likely to face some self-quarantine period before they leave home. This will be followed by tests at the airport, tests arriving in Japan, and frequent testing for those staying in the Athletes Village alongside Tokyo Bay.