High fives, hugs, and cheering are part of the Olympic experience.
But not this year at the Tokyo Olympics.
For the first time, spectators may not be part of the Games, according to International Olympic Committee vice-president, Anita DeFrantz.
“If we need to do it without spectators to make sure everyone’s safe, we’ll do it that way. Because we have television, thank goodness,” DeFrantz said. “There is no Plan B. We go forward with the Games in Tokyo.”
Postponed last year because of the virus, the atmosphere at the Tokyo Games will be different, according to Pierre Ducrey, Olympic Games operations director, who addressed a virtual news conference.
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“Health and safety is the top priority for the Olympic and Paralympic games, and those conditions will have to be respected for us to be able to deliver on this mission,” Ducrey said.
Officials have released details of the COVID-19 rules for the Olympics in a series of playbooks, which include wearing a mask at all times, except when eating or sleeping, no hugs, high fives or handshakes.
Additionally, athletes won’t be able to cheer on their teammates, but being vaccinated before arriving in Tokyo is not a requirement.
“We will not be having vaccination as an obligation for participation to the Games,” Ducrey said.
National teams are encouraged to assist athletes and officials to get vaccinated in their home countries before they head to Japan.
In late January, B.C. Premier John Horgan said athletes will not be vaccinated before the Games. “The plan to date does not allow for that. As time goes by, we may be in a better position, but we’re not today.”
Rugby Canada’s Gareth Rees said athletes are prepared to play during a pandemic. “They just want to get on the field and represent Canada, and be all they can be.”
Rees is the only Canadian inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame.
He said he’s not surprised with the level of details released today in preparation for the Games.
“As elite athletes it’s pretty important that they play by all the rules. And they are taking all the precautions just to keep that Olympic dream alive until they get down to Tokyo in July,” Rees said.
Canada’s Olympians are training towards the Games, set to begin five months from now on July 23