According to the final version of the Playbook issued by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on June 15, athletes who do not follow COVID-19 protocols at the Tokyo Olympics would risk harsh penalties, including expulsion from the Games.
If athletes travelling to Japan for the Tokyo Olympics wanted a heads-up, they got it when organisers unveiled the third and final version of the so-called Playbook, which governs behaviour during these pandemic-affected games.
The message is simple: Follow the regulations when the Olympics begin, or face a warning, a fine, or anything in between.
During a remote talk with Tokyo organisers, Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi stated, "Respect the Playbook, respect the rules."
'Disciplinary regulations' are an important addition to the comprehensive guidelines for athletes and authorities in the event of an athlete's violation. Not wearing masks when needed and refusing to undergo the COVID-19 test are among the items on the list.
“The range of potential consequences that the IOC and IPC (for Paralympic Games) may impose have been included to provide some transparency to stakeholders and Games participants,” IOC said in a statement.
The Olympics and Paralympics are anticipated to attract 15,400 athletes, according to officials. The Olympics begin on July 23 and the Paralympics begin on August 24. The overall number of people anticipated to attend both events, including athletes, journalists, broadcasters, the Olympic Family, sponsors, and others, is estimated to be around 93,000.
All athletes and spectators travelling to Japan for the Olympics will be subjected to stringent testing requirements both before and after their arrival. They must also agree to have their whereabouts tracked using GPS, download numerous applications, make a vow to observe the rules, maintain social distancing, avoid taking public transit for the first 14 days, and keep organisers updated about their status.
"We expect everybody to follow the rules. But we also have to be aware there could be infractions," Olympic Games Operations Director Pierre Ducrey told Associated Press.
According to Ducrey, the range of penalties might include a warning, temporary or permanent exclusion from the Olympics, accreditation revocation, or just a fine.
Officials also stated that the Japanese government has deportation powers and that the individual sports federations and national Olympic committees may be subject to their own sanctions.
Dubi remained tight-lipped about any potential financial consequences. He stated that a disciplinary committee will make the decision. However, he stated that regulations will be enforced "before, during, and after" athletes compete.
More than 80% of people living in the Olympic Village will be properly immunised, according to the International Olympic Committee. In comparison, just around 5% of the Japanese population has been vaccinated as part of a gradual rollout that is only now picking up momentum.
The medical community in Japan has been overwhelmingly opposed to the Olympics being held in Tokyo, arguing that the hazards are too severe. Dr. Shigeru Omi, the government's chief medical adviser, said it's "abnormal" to conduct the Olympics during a pandemic.