Wreck-It Reck! An Olympic Dilemma


International Olympic Committee

The front cover of the playbook for this year’s Olympics.

With a recent push to bring the 2020 Summer Olympics back after a delay, there was a possibility of it being canceled and athletes would have to wait another four years to get their chance if they were able to depend on a variety of prerequisites.
The Olympics gives me joy because of how limited the Olympics are on time, since it’s every four years. The athletes are also limited, since countries aim at younger athletes It is a spectacular thing to see them go at it and compete for who truly could be the best in the world. Taking away a possible once in a lifetime opportunity can really bring down a person’s morale for years, and believe me, I’m a senior in a pandemic…
Anyway, with the Summer Olympics in jeopardy, I looked into what Japan wants to do for Tokyo 2020.
For weeks it has been up in the air about having one of these events, and according to Reuters, a news company, there was a Kyodo News survey in Japan that said about 80% of people in Japan wanted the games either delayed or canceled entirely.
Even though all of the negativity about the Olympics in Japan, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has reached an agreement, and I’m proud to say this, we will be having a Summer Olympics this year.
Well, after my joy spiked, I decided to go down the rabbit hole of how the IOC and Japan are going to be handling this Olympics and looked into their “playbook” for handling Covid.
First things first, this was the best book of rules and regulations that I have ever read by far. It was very fun and easy, and there was no need for those big words that I had to Google, and it was most likely because of the insane amount of languages that need to be translated.
The rules they have established are about the same as something like the NFL or when the NBA had their finals late last year: minimize physical contact, no hugs or handshakes, avoid enclosed spaces, no use of public transportation unless given permission, and as always, maintain social distancing.
Athletes will receive information about their tests and also give info about what they do and where they go, for contact tracing purposes from an app called COCOA.
I looked into this app and immediately was impressed with how it works.
COCOA comes from the COVID-19 Contact App or COVID-19 Contact-Confirming App, but for the sake of simplicity, I’m calling it COCOA.
In the description, the app is provided by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare of Japan, which is only used in Japan. You register yourself, either anonymous or your actual profile, and it does the contact tracing for you. When you register yourself as a positive for Covid and go out to do something, others who have the app and are less than six feet from the individual who has the positive will be notified from the app that you are near someone who is positive and could be infected.
I know, this sounds like something you can breach into easily and steal some data, but the data is locked and will be deleted after 14 days, so maybe other countries could put something like this to use (hint, hint).
While using an app sounds pretty unique, the traveling part is more unique than other sports. Traveling to Japan, you are required to isolate for 14 days and plan accordingly in those 14 days. Every move you make is recorded, via COCOA and a COVID-19 Liaison Officer (an officer that communicates closely with Olympic athletes), and it includes activities: where they travel, even though it is restricted to official Olympic venues, how they travel, and an athletes accommodations.
This is a great way to contact trace while keeping it strict and safe. The issue I have with this is how they get the training done in those 14 days.
These Olympians go through hours of training prior to their events, and how are they going to get any of it done before they play?
There wasn’t a statement that mentioned things that the athlete can do, and it leaves me some concern because the lack of training can greatly affect anyone, from middle school sports, all the way to professional. I can understand that they need to save energy on the day before, but what about the other 12 or 13 days? It doesn’t add up, and they added an asterisk about more details on an activity plan, in which I’m hoping that in the next playbook it’ll be cleared up, even if the rules say that the traveling is Olympic venues and a couple of other locations.
Also, it doesn’t seem like there can be any spectators to watch the games either.
Olympic athletes can’t even go there to watch teammates, and that is sounding like fans aren’t going to either.
“The question is, is this a ‘must-have’ or ‘nice-to-have.’ It’s nice to have spectators. But it’s not a must-have,” IOC member Dick Pound said.
And I completely agree with that statement. You have some NBA and NHL fans with absolutely no fan in attendance, and it seems to be doing just fine. Fans can always hype a player, but they can always have artificial crowds cheering them on, even if they aren’t the same.
Something that’s even more bizarre is that as an Olympic athlete, when it’s not the time for your event yet but you’re observing your teammates, you cannot yell or cheer them on. You can only clap them on… So if you’re watching a 100-meter race unfold, be prepared to hear lots of clapping. I’m sure that if they’re fans involved, then they will probably have to follow the procedure as well, and that will be one of the weirdest noises you could hear at any sporting event.
I can’t help but commend the IOC for pushing forward for something as big as this. This is more likely going to be one of the most unique Summer Olympics for decades to come, thanks to a global pandemic. When the time comes for the Olympics to actually start, I will give them all credit for overcoming this.
The rules that they have in place are one of the best ones to contain the spread of Covid, and we can only hope that these rules can set the foundation for other sports, and rewrite their Covid protocols to nearly match up with what the Olympics have because these can definitely work for a long time until we are finally out of this disaster of a pandemic.