Tokyo Olympic officials want the world to know they are working on measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic at next year’s games, even if they don’t know exactly what they will be.
Tokyo organizers showcased a few possible remedies on Wednesday, displaying various screening measures at the city’s Big Sight convention complex, the home of the media center for the Olympics. Most of it looked familiar, including hand sanitizers and people passing through scanning devices with guards wearing face shields at the other end.
One innovation involved a sticker placed on the wrist to measure body temperature in a few seconds. “This time we have tried different methods and analyzed them,” said Tsuyoshi Iwashita, the executive director of the Tokyo Olympics security bureau.
“I think there is no right answer but we still have to think about what we should do. There are various (sports) competitions going on, but I think the challenge is to find out what kind of method is suitable for the world’s largest sports event — the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.”
It won’t be easy, or perfect. Athletes around the globe have come down with COVID-19 despite precautions. Ten members of the Italian swim team reported positive for the virus on Tuesday, including world champions Simona Quadarella and Gabriele Detti.
On the other hand, the NBA recently finished its season without a single positive test. The International Olympic Committee has said that athletes testing positive at the Olympics are likely to be excluded, perhaps extinguishing years of training.
The Olympic numbers are huge: 11,000 athletes, and thousands of officials, judges, VIPs, volunteers, sponsors, media and broadcasters. Add another 4,400 athletes for the Paralympics. Then inject the question of fans: Will there be any? Or will only Japanese be allowed?
Tokyo organizers and the IOC have said they are testing “many scenarios” and are unlikely to explain until early next year exactly how the Olympics can be held safely.