After Positive Coronavirus Test: Improvement of Quarantine Conditions in Tokyo Urgent
Berlin, July 30, 2021. Athleten Deutschland calls on the IOC to urgently push for substantial improvements in the quarantine conditions for athletes in Tokyo.
There is no question that the strict quarantine requirements must be adhered to at the Games following a confirmed positive coronavirus test. The protection of everyone’s health must be the priority at all times. The Games must not accelerate the infection rate domestically, nor must they become a global super spreader event. Athletes fully understand this. However, they may expect to spend the mandatory quarantine under appropriate conditions.
Athletes in quarantine on site report a lack of supply of basic necessities. In the current quarantine hotel, for example, there is an insufficient provision of fresh air. The food supply is neither rich nor balanced and does not meet the specific nutritional requirements of high-performance athletes. Athletes who have resumed training activities in their rooms have to clean their sweaty clothes in the sink, which hardly dry afterwards. They feel left alone, having to obtain a lot of information on their own. It is unclear to them what the exact procedure of quarantine is and what steps have to be taken after it is over. We have been told of language barriers in communication with medical staff.
Maximilian Klein, Representative for International Sport Policy, comments: “The IOC has refrained from developing a plan B from the very beginning and therefore has a special responsibility towards all those involved, including the athletes. It generates billions in revenue from their work and their performance without letting them participate in the profits as essential contributors. On top, the IOC has also dumped the residual risks from heat and COVID-19 on the athletes through liability waivers. It therefore 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.”
The athlete community does not expect accommodation in luxury hotels. However, the athletes can reasonably expect that the organizers of the Games will provide adequate quarantine conditions that meet the legitimate physical and psychological needs of high-performance athletes. Certainly, the responsible National Olympic Committees and Federations are currently doing everything they can for athletes under quarantine. In retrospect, however, it is unfortunate that the IOC apparently neglected the quarantine conditions in the planning of the Games, even though they had been known for a long time in advance. It appears as if it did not use its capabilities to implement acceptable solutions with those in charge.
Athleten Deutschland pointed out the special challenges in the event of infection and quarantine, also with regard to the mental health of athletes, in the position paper “Ensure Safety and Fulfill Duty of Care” published in the spring. Other organizations such as the players’ union World Players Association equally spelled out the different challenges in their compilation of “Best Practice Measures to Protect Public and Athlete Health at the Tokyo Olympics”.
Athletes often focus their entire career on the sporting highlight of the Olympic Games. They endure years of financial, social, and health-related burdens and deprivations. An infection with COVID-19 can therefore not only pose well-known health risks for elite athletes, but in the worst case it can also be a traumatizing shock that suddenly rips away a long-cherished lifetime dream. For example, an infection before the start of a competition can lead to a severe personal and sporting crisis, which can have lasting effects on the mental stability and health of those affected.