The Australian Olympic Committee is looking at a range of extreme isolation options to protect athletes if the Tokyo Games go ahead in July.
There is growing doubt whether Tokyo 2020 should, or will, start in four months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The AOC has put a range of questions to the International Olympic Committee after the global body attempted to provide fresh assurances overnight on Wednesday in a teleconference.
But, on Thursday, the message from Australian team chef de mission Ian Chesterman to athletes was clear: Prepare for the Olympics to start as scheduled.
It is easier said than done amid the current health crisis, which has prompted governments around the world to introduce life-changing measures to help curb the spread of the potentially deadly coronavirus.
Mr Chesterman, who was part of the IOC teleconference, said Australia’s athletes wanted to compete at Tokyo and “if everyone’s planning for the Games then we must as well”
“That’s our obligation to the athletes,” he said.
Mr Chesterman said the AOC was talking with Australian sporting organisations about possible plans for the logistical nightmare of trying to ensure that every athlete arrived and departed Japan without catching the virus.
“[That means] more base camps, longer base camps here in Australia before they depart for the Games,” Mr Chesterman said.
“With a recognition they will be coronavirus free.
“We’ll also look at longer base camp options in Japan … there won’t be one giant base camp in Australia before the Games.
“Special charter flight arrangement potentially to take athletes into Tokyo and ensure the isolation period they’ve been taking is protected on the way to the Games.
“We’ll continue to work with the best minds in Australian sport … some sports have well-established plans and it’ll just be a matter of extending those plans.”
Australia’s chef de mission at London 2012, Nick Green, and many other athletes and officials around the world have questioned how the Games can go ahead in the current climate.
Mr Chesterman and AOC chief executive Matt Carroll were pressed about this throughout Thursday’s announcement in Sydney, repeatedly insisting the IOC was taking advice from the World Health Organisation and would protect the health of everyone involved.
“Think back to where this virus was a month ago,” Mr Carroll said.
“Things have changed. Nobody is quite sure how things will pan out in four to six months.
“They’re taking a measured approach. They’re getting the best possible advice they can possibly get.
“At times it will shift … if things change then the IOC’s decisions will change.”