The Australian Olympic Committee has launched a special project to manage coronavirus logistical challenges surrounding next year’s Tokyo Games.
Dubbed Project Wagasa – the Japanese word for umbrella – the project will steer athletes and sports through the COVID-19 maze for the postponed Olympics.
The project is an overall umbrella plan to guide Australia’s team through qualification, pre-Games camps, competition and travel to and from Tokyo.
Australia’s chef de mission Ian Chesterman described logistics amid the COVID-19 pandemic as a “huge challenge”.
“There is no doubt that organising a team to attend to these Games will be the most complex ever,” Chesterman told AAP.
“But why we are now so incredibly confident that the Games are proceeding is because the Japanese share the commitment to make it happen, so it’s really just something we have to deal with.”
Australia will send a team of about 480 athletes to Tokyo to contest 37 sports – likely to be the third biggest team at the Games behind hosts Japan and the USA.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo Olympic organisers have issued guidelines for the entry and exit of athletes from the Games.
Athletes will fly in and out of Tokyo within days of their competition in a bid to reduce coronavirus risks.
“We now know that the IOC and the organisers are looking to minimise the numbers in the Olympic Village at any one time,” Chesterman said.
He expected more specifics around coronavirus testing protocols, travel and restrictions in Tokyo to be announced by organisers in January.
“We won’t be rushing into a formal policy … because we want to wait and hear what the COVID countermeasures are,” Chesterman said.
“It’s very clear that we’re all going into an environment which we haven’t dealt with before.
“If there’s a mass rollout of vaccines before the Games it will obviously improve things considerably in terms of just minimising the risk of the impact of COVID during the Games.”
In Project Wagasa, the AOC will partner with Aspen Medical which will provide specialist health advice in three phases.
The first phase will include risk assessment checklists for national sports federations sending athletes to international qualifying events.
Phase two would focus on minimising COVID transmission at pre-Games training camps while the final phase would centre on protocols to minimise transmissions within the Australian team while travelling to and from Tokyo.