A New Study On COVID-19 Cases at the Tokyo Olympics Has Lessons for the Beijing Games

Tokyo officers took a calculated threat in internet hosting the Olympic Video games final July and August. Whereas infections of the Delta variant have been inflicting surges all over the world, together with within the host metropolis, Japanese Olympic and authorities authorities felt that correct management measures, together with vaccination, masking, testing, and isolation would quell any outbreaks and preserve the world’s largest sporting occasion from turning into a brilliant spreader conflagration.

That guess proved to be principally proper, in response to lately revealed knowledge in a Analysis Letter in JAMA. What it means for the just-started 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, which have begun because the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to unfold all over the world, will change into clear because the Video games play out over the subsequent month.
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The examine, by members of the Bureau of Worldwide Well being Cooperation, the Nationwide Middle for International Well being and Medication Tokyo, the Infectious Illnesses Management Middle and Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Video games, centered on athletes, coaches, and help employees throughout each the Olympic and Paralympic Video games who stayed within the Olympic Village. All have been required to check unfavorable twice within the days earlier than boarding their flights to Tokyo, and have been examined with a saliva take a look at upon arriving on the airport. Whereas within the Village, athletes, coaches, and help employees have been examined each day.

Well being officers on the airport carried out 54,520 SARS-CoV-2 saliva exams, and 55 individuals examined constructive, which was confirmed by a further PCR take a look at utilizing a nasopharyngeal swab. These people have been remoted in a delegated facility till they examined unfavorable.

Learn extra: I’m a Well being Author Who Covers the Olympics. Right here’s What I Considered the Tokyo Video games Bubble

Among the many a couple of million each day exams carried out throughout each the Olympics and Paralympics, 299 have been confirmed constructive, resulting in a constructive charge of 0.03%. Primarily based on these constructive exams, 3,426 extra PCR exams have been carried out in the course of the Olympics and Paralympics on these recognized as shut contacts, with 15 of those individuals testing constructive.

Circumstances elevated steadily in the course of the Video games; there have been 70 constructive exams on opening day, which elevated to a peak of 142 on day 5 earlier than reducing within the following days.

That pattern probably displays the truth that the pseudo bubble created in Tokyo for athletes was efficient; the upper variety of instances early on might be attributed to exposures throughout coaching camps or flights into town. However as soon as in Tokyo, athletes have been restricted to utilizing solely Olympic transportation and eating in Olympic venues with screened employees. The authors of the report observe that “public well being management measures on the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics labored properly to forestall COVID-19 clusters contained in the Village, regardless of a surge in new COVID-19 instances recorded in Tokyo throughout that point.”

Will Tokyo’s expertise translate to Beijing in the course of the 2022 Winter Video games, which begin on Feb. 4? Beijing officers are coping with a really totally different virus than the one which stalked the Tokyo Olympics. Omicron is a number of occasions extra transmissible than Delta, which implies the variety of infections has skyrocketed in gorgeous style. In contrast to in Tokyo, nevertheless, athletes, coaches, and delegations arriving in Beijing should be vaccinated, or present an accepted medical exemption that requires them to quarantine for 21 days upon arriving within the metropolis.

Learn extra: What Occurs if an Athlete Assessments Optimistic on the Beijing Olympics

The 2022 Winter Video games will even be carried out underneath a stricter “bubble” than the one applied in Tokyo. Athletes and media in Tokyo have been allowed to make use of public transportation and mingle with the general public after 14 days. In Beijing, athletes will likely be required to stay within the so-called Closed Loop for his or her total keep. In the event that they take a look at constructive, athletes will likely be required to maneuver to an isolation facility in the event that they don’t have signs, and to a hospital in the event that they do. They’ll solely depart these amenities in the event that they take a look at unfavorable twice with 24 hours in between; typically, it takes no less than 5 days or so for contaminated individuals to start out testing unfavorable for the virus. For many athletes, that signifies that testing constructive will probably forestall them from competing.

The Beijing Video games additionally look starkly totally different than the Tokyo Olympics; all employees interacting with Olympic athletes are gowned head to toe in white disposal protecting fits, and are sporting masks and face shields in addition to gloves. In Tokyo, masks and gloves have been the extent of protecting gear that the majority volunteers wore.

Circumstances will likely be inevitable as individuals arrive from all over the world for the Beijing Olympics; already practically 3% of athletes and officers have examined constructive at Capital Worldwide Airport. Since Jan. 23, 200 constructive COVID-19 instances have been detected amongst Olympics-related personnel, which incorporates employees. However Beijing’s stricter insurance policies will probably assist in controlling instances from erupting into widespread clusters. Not less than that’s what Beijing Olympic authorities are fervently hoping is the case.


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