TOKYO, June 22(Reuters) - With the coronavirus pandemic likely to be far from over when the Tokyo Olympics open on July 23 after a one-year postponement, strict anti-contagion measures will be deployed in a nation where vaccinations have been slow.
A key part of the “safe and secure Olympics” that organisers have promised to the people of Japan is daily coronavirus saliva testing of the athletes who take part, and frequent testing of others involved as well.
The following is an outline of that process.
POSITIVE SALIVA TEST?
Each team will be responsible for daily gathering and delivering saliva samples from its members to medics stationed in the village for testing.
If an athlete tests positive on their daily antigen testing based on a saliva sample, their team will be notified and they’ll go to a “fever clinic” within the village for an examination and a follow up polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
If this test is positive as well, those with no symptoms or light symptoms will be sent to quarantine in a hotel, and those with heavier symptoms who need treatment will go to hospital. Hotels have been secured for quarantine but are not being named.
HOW LONG TO GET THE TEST RESULTS?
About three hours; there will be a testing facility in the Olympic Village.
Specialised clinic staff will question anybody who tests positive on the second test about their whereabouts and activities, and those determined to have been in close contact will also have PCR tests.
“Close contact” will be defined by a number of parameters, including whether the people affected wore masks or not, how close they were to each other and for how long.
WHAT ABOUT TESTING AND COMPETITION?
Daily testing will be set up to not interfere with any competitions, with results at night for those who submitted their samples in the morning, and vice versa.
HOW MANY TESTS A DAY?
The organisers say this is hard to estimate and the numbers will vary every day. A daily total could be above 20,000, they say. Add in others such as officials and coaches, and some days could reach over 80,000, say the organisers.
Carrying this out smoothly will be an unprecedented challenge and will require the cooperation of private companies who have contracts with the organising committee. (Reporting by Antoni Slodkowski; additional reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Ami Miyazaki; writing by Elaine Lies; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)