Brian Lewis

‘NECESSARY RISK-MITIGATION MEASURE’: TTOC president Brian Lewis

THE TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO OLYMPIC COMMITTEE (TTOC) supports the position taken by Tokyo2020 Olympic Games organisers to ban overseas spectators, as they attempt to ensure a safe environment for athletes.

After organisers in Tokyo — battling with a third wave of Covid-19 infections — confirmed that stance yesterday, TTOC president Brian Lewis said his organisation had anticipated that overseas visitors would be banned from the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games, rescheduled because of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 to July 23-August 8, 2021.

“From a risk management analysis perspective a ban appeared a certainty. As countries around the world try to cope with the third wave and new variants,” Lewis stated,” the inequity of Covid-19 vaccination access has exacerbated the situation. The TTOC believes that a ban on overseas fans is a necessary risk mitigation measure along with the comprehensive Covid-19 countermeasures and protocols that the Tokyo2020 Organising Committee, the Japanese Government, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) have put in place.”

Lewis added that the ongoing review and assessment of the countermeasures — to be updated in the IOC Tokyo2020 Playbook in April - will address any adjustments that are required.

“The priority is creating a safe environment for athletes and the people of Japan,” said Lewis.

He added that the TTOC was also aware that several T&T citizens had made arrangements to travel to Tokyo to support Team TTO.

“Tickets purchased for the Games will be refunded and the Games organisers will clarify the process for obtaining Games specific event ticket refunds,” Lewis explained.

Yesterday, during a virtual meeting, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG), the Organising Committee Tokyo 2020 and the Government of Japan advised the IOC and IPC about the conclusion of the Japanese parties not to allow entry into Japan for overseas spectators for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 due to the prevailing worldwide Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement published by the IOC, it stated that since the 2013 election of Tokyo as the host of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, all five parties had been preparing for the Tokyo 2020 Games with the goal of “welcoming domestic and overseas spectators, celebrating the athletes, and embodying the values of the Olympic and Paralympic Games”.

The IOC detailed the timeline that led to the postponement of the Games due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It also outlined that the Japanese Coordination Meeting for Covid-19 Countermeasures at the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 had issued an interim summary in December 2020 that included the following statement on overseas spectators:

“The decision whether to accept overseas spectators will be made by the spring of 2021 taking into consideration the Covid-19 situation in Japan and overseas, immigration regulations in force at the time, and any prevailing restrictions on the attendance of sporting events.”

Clarity to ticket holders

The five parties agreed on March 3 that a final decision would be announced by the end of March.

“Currently, the Covid-19 situation in Japan and many other countries around the world is still very challenging and a number of variant strains have emerged,” the IOC statement read, “whilst international travel remains severely restricted globally. Based on the present situation of the pandemic, it is highly unlikely that entry into Japan will be guaranteed this summer for people from overseas. In order to give clarity to ticket holders living overseas and to enable them to adjust their travel plans at this stage, the parties on the Japanese side have come to the conclusion that they will not be able to enter into Japan at the time of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“This conclusion will further contribute to ensure safe and secure Games for all participants and the Japanese public.”

The IOC and IPC announced that they fully respect and accept this conclusion and that the organisations will implement a mechanism to refund ticket holders.

“We will continue to do our utmost to deliver a safe and secure Games in the hopes that the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be a light of hope for people all over the world,” the IOC stated.

Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee president Seiko Hashimoto said: “We are currently working on specific plans to share support remotely from around the world and help bring people together in ways suited to our current times. Even if you are no longer able to come to Japan this summer, we hope very much that you will continue to support the Tokyo 2020 Games.”

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