• Kyodo


Participants at a three-day COVID-19 working meeting that ended Wednesday called criticism of the currently published Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic coronavirus countermeasures welcome but also premature.

A week ago, Tennis Australia's chief executive Craig Tiley said he had read the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics countermeasures "playbook" carefully but could not see it working.

Tiley said Tokyo organizers would need far more rigorous quarantine measures than they first outlined on Feb. 3.

Two officials who attended the joint meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and local organizing committee officials told a news conference Wednesday that Tiley's comments needed to be put in perspective.

"It's always good to see that the work we have done raises the level of attention and that a number of people are commenting," said Christophe Dubi, the IOC Olympic Games executive director, who pointed out that the final edition of the playbook will not be published until June.

"If we make a number of decisions now when the COVID situation is very fluid, then we might regret some of the decisions. It's very important to … make the right call at the right time. And as far as we're concerned, that is April for the second playbook and then everything with the final details down to the last wire, bolt and nut in June."

Hidemasa Nakamura, the Tokyo organizers' games delivery officer, said such criticism was not only inevitable but also welcome.

"We formulated this playbook with the IOC and IPC six months ahead of the games," he said. "It is transparent and is presented publicly. With six months to go, there are so many things that we have not ironed out, but we still showed the first version."

"Because we are open, he (Tiley) commented on the points we are lacking; I think that is good advice. We attach importance to such communications. I think it is a wholesome process."

Craig Spence, the IPC's director of media and communications, called the working meetings "very technical" in nature and said that second and third editions of the playbook will provide much more detail to the stakeholders.

"I think the first edition of the playbook has gone over very well … particularly with our athlete community, and they were very receptive to the amount of work effort that is going into delivering the games," Spence said. "The second and third editions … will move from the guiding principles to how the games will be organized."

"We don't want to speculate about things that we might do, but rather communicate things once they're fully confirmed, and in the April and June editions you'll begin to see more of that."

The participants were also asked to comment on statements by Shimane Gov. Tatsuya Maruyama who cast doubts on the safety of the torch relay, set to begin on March 25.

"The games have to be operated in a safe and secure manner, and that also applies to the torch relay," said Nakamura, who said local governments had only seen the first draft of the torch relay guidelines and thus were operating on incomplete information.

Dubi added that the safety measures organizers will insist on for the games themselves will also apply to test events and the torch relay.

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