Sport Olympics Olympics officials promise to make life easier for COVID athletes

Olympics officials promise to make life easier for COVID athletes

A sleepy security guard and a hand-sanitising station enforce the Olympics' anti-COVID measures. Photo: Getty
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Organisers say they will look at improving conditions for athletes quarantined at the Tokyo Olympics following mounting complaints.

Athletes and staff who test positive or are contact-traced are isolated in separate accommodation from their teams in an effort to contain the spread of the virus as the Japanese capital struggles with a rise in infections.

Newly reported COVID-19 cases in the Olympic host city surged to a record high of 4,058 on Saturday.

Athletes have criticised quarantine conditions, with some, such as Dutch skateboarder Candy Jacobs, calling them “inhumane”.

Germany’s independent elite athletes grouping Athleten Deutschland have urged the International Olympic Committee to act.

“It … appears grotesque that athletes who test positive have to spend their quarantine in prison-like conditions, while IOC members stay in expensive luxury hotels and are provided with high daily allowances,” said Athleten Deutschland representative Maximilian Klein.

Among the biggest issues are lack of fresh air and training facilities, the quality of food, small living quarters and an absence of basic amenities such as laundry facillities.

“It’s unfortunately for all of us but particularly also the athletes the extra measures that have to be taken in terms of isolation and we fully sympathise with everyone who’s had to go through this,” said IOC spokesman Mark Adams.

“There are certain regulations that the Japanese health authorities imposed – we can’t do much about that – but there are things that can be done.”

Tokyo Games spokesperson Masa Takaya said organisers had managed to provide more space for isolation cases outside their rooms while teammates could bring food.

Trying to be more flexible

“The situation has been improved and we are trying to implement a more flexible approach to accommodate these positive cases,” Takaya said.

So far dozens of athletes and team staff have been quarantined at the Games, with 21 new Games-related COVID-19 cases recorded on Saturday for a total of 241 infections since July 1.

Not all of these are athletes.

Two Australian track and field athletes and a coach will remain in isolation for the duration of the Games after their contact with leading US pole vaulter Sam Kendricks, who was ruled out of Tokyo with COVID-19.

Newly reported COVID-19 cases in Tokyo exceeded 4,000 for the first time on Saturday.

Amid intensifying concerns, Tokyo organisers said on Saturday they had revoked accreditation of a “Games-related person or people” for leaving the athletes’ village for sightseeing, a violation of safety measures imposed to hold the Olympics amid the pandemic.

This is the first time accreditation has been revoked since the start of the Tokyo Olympics on July 23.