BBC Sport – Olympics
I would be naive if I said there won’t be any cases – BOA boss Anson
The head of the British Olympic Association (BOA) says the organization is still trying to convince some athletes to have the Covid vaccine before Tokyo 2020 kicks off next month.
CEO Andy Anson said “well over 90%” of British athletes will receive two doses of vaccine by the time the Olympics are held.
But he also admitted that “there are people who do not want to be vaccinated”.
“We’re trying to convince them it’s the right thing to do,” he added.
“People have the right to vote, and we have to respect that. But that doesn’t necessarily help.”
In a detailed and exclusive interview with The Sports Desk PodcastAnson said the BOA had “a mammoth vaccination program for the entire entourage, well over 1,000 people … because that reduces the risk,” but there have been challenges.
“There has been some difficulty with some athletes who have traveled around the continent,” he said. “I’m pretty sure almost everyone will get at least one dose. We’ll keep trying until the last minute.”
The 2020 Olympics were postponed for the first time in their history due to the pandemic and are set to take place on July 23rd despite significant opposition from the public and medical experts in Japan.
Organizers insist they are safe and protected, but vaccination adoption has been slow.
The number of coronavirus cases has been falling since May when there were more than 6,000 a day across Japan and the state of emergency was lifted in Tokyo.
In the host city, experts have said that the daily infection rate should be below 100 to keep the games safe.
However, the city’s health authorities reported 619 new infections on June 23, the average for the last seven days is 423 new infections per day.
The BOA is sending a team of more than 370 athletes to the event.
“Hardest environment in sports”
Rupert Wingfield-Hayes takes a look at how the athletes’ village is hoping to reduce the risk of Covid. to reduce
Anson said the 18,000-bed athletes’ village in Tokyo will “likely be the toughest environment in sport at the time.”
“Eleven thousand athletes share a dining room, so to speak, that is the challenge.
“So we keep very strict protocols together with [the organisers] To make sure that we follow the rules of isolation, distancing and holding in our own “half-bubbles” as much as possible.
“We’re going to eat together – we’re not going to mingle in the village like people usually do. So that’s the hard thing. But we’re confident that we have enough people, medically, to make sure the environment is” as safe as it just works. “
This week, two Ugandan athletes tested positive after arriving in Japan despite being fully vaccinated.
When asked if he feared similar cases with British athletes, Anson said, “I would be a little naive if I said there weren’t any.
“We have to plan that there will be cases … we assume and when there are cases we manage them properly.
“But there is clearly a risk that people will test positive.
“The vaccination gives you the opportunity to get out of quarantine environments sooner.
“I think we all know this pandemic is very difficult to deal with.”
The “Fever Clinic”
Athletes suspected of having Covid will be sent to the village’s “fever clinic” and, if the case is positive, they could be moved to an “isolation hotel” to exclude them from their events.
“The athletes are very aware of the risks because they have competed and seen some colleagues who missed the competition,” said Anson.
“We have some brilliant people who are very focused on mental health and wellbeing. But it won’t be easy when it happens.”
Anson confirmed that Team GB athletes would not need to be quarantined for six days upon arrival in Japan after Britain was added to Japan’s “red travel list” due to rising cases of the Delta variant.
“We contacted the IOC and said it was completely unfair. They recognized that immediately,” he said.
“They developed this plan for Team GB, where we cannot train or mix with athletes from other nations three days after arriving. But that’s fine, because the vast majority of our athletes go to prep camp that is our own environment. “
“Obsessed with Covid”
Despite the limitations, Anson believes athletes can continue to enjoy the Olympics.
“One of the messages we got from the athletes very early on was: ‘Please don’t make this the Covid Games for us. We want to see this as the Olympic Games. It’s our chance to shine.’
“So, as an organization, we are obsessed with the effects of Covid. We try to get all that weight off the athletes’ shoulders so they can go out and compete and enjoy it without worrying about all of these other things thinking they can be fun.
“There are some sad things – the fact that the athletes have to leave the village and then come home within two days of the competition means they can’t see their fellow athletes.
“Friends and family were the only group we tried to push back to see if they would be allowed into the country. But the Japanese government rightly decided that there were no international visitors.
“So that’s a shame, but we’ll make it as positive as possible.”
‘Do the right thing’
Despite fears the games could trigger a surge in coronavirus infections, Up to 10,000 Japanese fans are admitted to the venues.
“There is nothing bigger and better than the Olympics to unite the whole world. Yes, it will be tough and different,” said Anson.
“But I am absolutely convinced that it is the right thing to do.
“It has a chance to lift the whole country and even the world, and it could be an amazing experience.”
Anson admitted that canceling the Games would have created “a very difficult situation for the BOA”.
“And that would have been replicated around the world, not just for national Olympic committees, but for international associations.
“It wasn’t about greed. It was about the financial sustainability of the entire sports landscape.”