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Tokyo 2020: COVID-19 measures developed 'for every possible scenario'

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President Chiulli represented international sports federations at the 9th Olympic Summit
President Chiulli represented international sports federations at the 9th Olympic Summit   -   Copyright  IOC, Greg Martin
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Leading representatives of the Olympic movement met over the weekend for the 9th Olympic Summit to discuss key subjects, including the games in Tokyo next year and the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022.

Challenges facing sports federations

Dr. Raffaele Chiulli was a participant and is also the president of SportAccord and the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF). We talked to him about the main challenges that needed to be addressed.

"We have common challenges. And I am going to be very direct on this, just to mention a few; lack of access to training facilities, athlete mental health, not only physical health, mental health, the issue of the fight against doping - and also the travel restrictions which are continuing and so forth. So it is more important than ever that we do our job in sharing the key lessons and shining a spotlight of best practice," Dr. Raffaele Chiulli said, adding that these are challenges shared by all in the sports community as it continues to adjust to the global health pandemic.

"Clearly international sport has suffered and many events have been postponed and others unfortunately cancelled but despite the pandemic, for the sports community, it has been an incredible period of innovation and remarkable achievement in sport.

"The world of sport did not stop because of the pandemic. And just as the situation with the pandemic is continuously evolving our common solution has been evolving as well, and has been dynamic and adaptable," he added.

Condensed tournament formats, limiting the attendance of fans, regular testing, and creating safe bubbles for athletes during events are just some of the measures we have seen implemented this year.

Dr Raffaele, along with other key industry figures, expressed full confidence in the "safe and secure" organisation of the Tokyo Olympic Games too - which were due to take place this summer but were postponed in March because of coronavirus.

They are now set to start in July 2021.

They agreed that the top priority remains the health and safety of all participants - and highlighted a "toolbox of COVID-19 countermeasures" being developed for "every possible scenario".

Those measures will include state-of-the-art rapid testing methods and vaccines. We have also seen scanning devices being trialled - and stickers that can measure body temperature in a few seconds when placed on someone's wrist.

Such protocols will also be available to put in place for the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing in 2022, with the venues for it due to be finished by the end of this year.

Driving progress and change

The International Olympic Committee recently announced changes to its format to make it gender equal and have 50% male and female participation in the Paris 2024 games, as opposed to 48.8% female participation at the Tokyo 2020 games.

Other programme changes include the addition of a new sport to the line-up, in the form of 'breaking' - a competitive form of break dancing.

It will join other urban sports in Paris, including: skateboarding, freestyle BMX and 3v3 basketball, which will debut at the delayed Tokyo Olympics, along with surfing and sport climbing.

"I am so happy as president of GAISF. I welcome very much the IOC executive board decision on the Olympic Games Paris 2024, which is going to be completely 'gender-equal, youth-focused, and fully aligned with our values, such as inclusivity and creativity.

"And in particular, parity of 50% male and female participation for the first time in the history of the games, along with the inclusion of four additional sports, such as breaking, skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing.

"It is a very positive way for the sport community to react to the pandemic.This programme is going to demonstrate that youth is very important to us," Dr Raffaele added.

IOC President, Thomas Bach also made a statement on the changes to the games in Paris in 2024, and said: “With this programme, we are making the Olympic Games Paris 2024 fit for the post-corona world. We are further reducing the cost and complexity of hosting the Games.

"While we will achieve gender equality already at the upcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, we will see for the first time in Olympic history the participation of the exact same number of female athletes as male athletes. There is also a strong focus on youth.”

Paris 2024 will also mark a growth in mixed events on the programme, compared to Tokyo 2020.

Among them will be one new mixed-gender event in athletics to replace the men's 50km race walk, two extreme canoe slalom events to replace two canoe sprint events - and three new mixed events in sailing.