Tokyo 2020: The Covid protocols for what happens after a positive test

Over 11,000 athletes from over 200 countries will arrive in Tokyo over the next few days

Two South African soccer players were the first athletes inside the Olympic Village to test positive for Covid-19. Photograph: AP

Two South African soccer players were the first athletes inside the Olympic Village to test positive for Covid-19. Photograph: AP

 

Already the Covid-19 protocols designed to protect athletes in Tokyo have begun to appear dangerously leaky. A Czech beach ball player, six British athletes isolating as close contacts and two players from the South African soccer team are already among the first batch of Covid affected individuals in Tokyo.

Over 11,000 athletes from over 200 countries will arrive in Tokyo over the next few days and weeks to participate in Olympics 2021 with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Tokyo Organising Committee having had to prepare rules on teams and individual athletes who return positive tests for the virus.

No Irish athlete from the country’s biggest ever team has tested positive, however, it remains a possibility and for that the IOC has laid down a series of protocols in what they call the Tokyo 2020 Sport-Specific Regulations (SSR).

The SSRs have been developed to determine specific guidelines for athletes and are essentially contingency plans in case there is a confirmed case of Covid in any sport.

The SSR says an athlete or a team that is forced to withdraw because of Covid will be considered ‘did not start (DNS)’ instead of ‘disqualified’.

In most sports, where events go on for multiple days, a player or team testing positive can be replaced. In hockey, rugby 7s, and handball, if a team tests positive after the first round of knockout matches, they are withdrawn and the team they beat to get to the second round takes their place.

In individual events, if an athlete is in the final but tests positive for Covid-19, that person is replaced by the next highest-ranked athlete from the heats.

There are some events like tennis, badminton, and boxing, where if a player tests positive, the opponent receives a ‘bye’ and there is no replacement required. In case this happens in the final, the player testing positive will be given a silver medal and the opponent gets gold.

The rules, however, are not the same for all of the sports in the roster. The following are the regulations governing the sports in which there are Irish competitors involved.

In Aquatics or swimming, an athlete or relay team who are not able to compete due to Covid-19 will not be disqualified and will be marked as DNS. In case an athlete/relay team must be removed from the semi-finals or finals, they will be replaced by the designated reserves in the respective events.

As athletics is held over multiple days, in case of an athlete being unable to compete because of a positive case, in track events the best next-best placed athletes from the previous round will be brought forward to replace that athlete in the next phase.

The exception is for the 10,000m which is a direct final and takes place as a single race and therefore the results of the daily Covid-19 test will determine if an athlete can start, otherwise the event will go ahead with one less athlete. For the field events where possible athletes unable to compete in the final will be replaced with the next best placed athlete.

In boxing, the athlete that cannot compete will not be disqualified and will be marked as DNS in case they cannot start the event and will be treated as a walk-over once the competition has started.

If an athlete is no longer able to compete the opponent will receive a bye and progress to the next round. If an athlete cannot compete in the final due to Covid-19 the bout will not go ahead and the athlete who can no longer compete will receive the silver medal and the opponent will be awarded the gold medal to protect the safety of the athletes.

In canoeing, an athlete who is unable to start any phase of their event will not be disqualified and will be marked as DNS. In case an athlete who has qualified for the quarterfinals, semi-final or final will not be able to compete due to Covid-19, the highest ranked athlete by time from the previous round will be brought forward to fill the vacant place.

In road cycling, an athlete who is unable to start the event due to Covid-19 will not be disqualified and will be marked as DNS. The events take place over one day and therefore the results of the daily Covid-19 test will determine if an athlete can start otherwise the event will go ahead with one athlete less.

In track cycling, an athlete/team who is unable to start the event due to Covid-19 will not be disqualified and will be marked as DNS. For events that take place over one day the results of the daily test will determine if an athlete can start. In this case, if an athlete cannot start due to Covid-19 reasons, the event would go ahead with one athlete less.

For events that take place over multiple days, athletes/teams that withdraw due to Covid-19 reasons will be replaced with the highest ranked athlete from the previous round.

In Equestrian eventing, in case where an athlete/horse combination cannot compete due to Covid-19 they will not be disqualified and will be marked as a DNS.

In Jumping, they will also be marked as DNS. In case a team cannot compete in the team final, the vacant position will not be filled. In case an athlete cannot participate in the individual final, the next highest ranked combination will take the place in the individual final.

In golf, the athletes will be marked as DNS in case they cannot start the competition due to Covid-19. Once the competition has started and there is a confirmed positive case the athlete will not be disqualified and will be marked as WD (Withdrawal). The competition will go ahead with one athlete less and the result of the withdrawn athlete will remain and be considered as final.

In artistic gymnastics, athletes unable to start the competition will be marked as DNS. The qualification events take place over one day. In case an athlete is no longer able to compete in the team final, if an NOC has an additional athlete, they can enter this athlete to complete the team. In case it is not feasible to replace an athlete and it prevents the entire team from participating in the final, the next-highest ranked eligible team based on the team ranking results of the qualifications will fill the open position.

In case an athlete cannot compete in the individual event (all-around or individual apparatus) the first designated reserve athlete (and all subsequent if needed) may take the same place as the athlete withdrawn. The number of designated reserve athletes may be extended as needed to fill in all vacant positions.

In hockey, teams unable to compete will be marked as DNS. In case a team in the knockout stages is no longer able to compete their minimum ranking achieved will be protected and, if time allows, their opponent will advance to the next round.

Therefore, if a team is unable to participate in the final, the team that was eliminated by the Covid-19 impacted team will be brought into the final to compete for the medal on the field of play. The other losing semi-finalist will be awarded the bronze medal.

In Judo the events take place over one day and therefore the results of the daily Covid-19 test will determine if an athlete can start otherwise the event will go ahead with one athlete less and the opponent will receive a bye. The athlete will not be disqualified and will be marked as DNS.

In modern pentathlon, if an athlete is not able to compete due to Covid-19 before the technical meeting, then the athlete is removed from the list and the event will go ahead with one athlete less. The athlete will not be disqualified and will be marked as DNS or ELI depending on the discipline.

In rowing, crew or crews unable to start the next round of the regatta due to Covid-19 will not be disqualified and will be marked as DNS. In case a crew will not be able to compete due to Covid-19 in a quarterfinal, semi-final or final, the next highest ranked boat or boats from previous round/s may be brought forward to fill the vacant place. This will be managed on a case by case basis and may include variations from the World Rowing progression system by the World Rowing executive committee.

In rugby sevens, in case a team is not able to compete due to Covid-19 it will not be disqualified and will be marked as DNS. If a team that had qualified for the knock-out round can no longer compete, the team ranked ninth based on the post-pool round standings will be brought forward to compete. In case a team cannot compete in the semi-final they shall be replaced by the team that they beat in the relevant quarter-final.

In case a team can no longer compete in the final, the team that was eliminated by the Covid-19 impacted team will be brought into the final to compete for the medal on the field of play. The winner of the final will be awarded the gold medal and both the runner up and the withdrawn teams will be awarded silver medals.

In sailing, athletes unable to start due to Covid-19 reasons will be marked as DNC. The results obtained until this point will remain as per the World Sailing regulations.

In shooting, if an athlete/team is not able to compete due to Covid-19, they will be marked as DNS. There will be no change to the competition format or groupings.

The events take place over one day with the exception of the shotgun events, however all athletes compete on both days and therefore the results of the daily Covid-19 test will determine if an athlete can start otherwise the event will go ahead with one athlete less.

For the mixed team event, in case an athlete can no longer take part in the event, but the NOC has another athlete on site, the NOC can replace an athlete team member.

In Taekwondo, athletes unable to start the competition due to Covid-19 will be marked as DNS, the opponent will receive a bye and progress to the next round. Given that the events take place over one day and therefore the results of the daily Covid-19 test will determine if an athlete can start.

In triathlon, an athlete who is unable to start the event due to Covid-19 will not be disqualified and will be marked as DNS. The events take place as a single race and therefore the results of the daily Covid-19 test will determine if an athlete can start otherwise the event will go ahead with one athlete/team less.

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