Australian Open chief Craig Tiley has urged strict quarantine rules for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.
Tokyo is expected to welcome 11,000 athletes at the end of July, when it holds the summer Games postponed from last year because of the virus.
Organisers are not currently considering wholesale quarantine for them as they hope to inspire athletes and spectators with the confidence to attend events.
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It took a gruelling effort by Tiley’s 600-strong team over the last 11 months to get the Australian Open ready for crowds amid the pandemic.
That included ferrying 1,200 players, officials and media on 17 flights from eight countries, arranging 14 days of quarantine and more than 30,000 tests, while limiting any chance for the virus to return to a city that stamped it out with four months of hard lockdown last year.
Despite all that rigour, 10 people still tested positive, forcing the abandonment of a full day of warm-up matches while further testing and isolation measures were adopted.
“I’ve seen the playbook for the Olympics and I’ve looked at it carefully,” Tiley said. “And compared to what we’ve done, we’ve had a far more rigorous program than is being proposed at the Olympics.
“I love the Olympic Games. I’d like to see it be successful. But with the experience we had, I cannot see it working.
“There’s no such thing as no risk,” he added. “But I cannot see it being done any other way, unless you are willing to accept a much higher risk of spreading the virus.”
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Longer incubation periods for new strains suggest that quarantine needs to be extended beyond two weeks, Tiley added.
He said he hoped to evolve a model that encourages audiences to global sporting events over the next few years, and share his conclusions with others as well as the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese Tennis Association.
“Vaccination is not the silver bullet,” he said. “I don’t see physical distancing and the wearing of masks and the quarantine going (away) anytime soon.
“I think 2022 is going to be different to 2021, but not much different when it comes to health and the protection of ourselves from each other, because of the spread of the virus.”
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