Original title: Tokyo Olympics “bubble run competition” welcomes the ultimate test at the last moment, there are still variables
Under the current situation, the outside world is skeptical about whether the “bubble” strategy of the Tokyo Olympics will work.
On the afternoon of July 21, the Chinese women’s football team faced Brazil in the first match of the Olympic women’s football group match, and finally lost to their opponents 0:5. The appearance of the women’s football means that the Chinese delegation’s journey to the Tokyo Olympics has sounded the “trumpet.” Team sports such as baseball and softball have also begun. On July 23, the 32nd Summer Olympic Games will officially open in Tokyo, Japan.
According to Xinhua News Agency, when IOC President Bach delivered a speech at the 138th IOC plenary meeting opened on July 20, he emotionally said to more than 80 IOC members at the scene: “Yes, we finally I came to Tokyo. Because of the global epidemic, I was forced to be separated from you for a long time. It is a very special feeling to see you face to face again.”
Due to the new crown virus pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics has been postponed from 2020 to 2021 for an unprecedented time. In the history of the Olympics for more than 100 years, this is the first rescheduled Olympic Games, and there have been two previous games interrupted by two world wars. In addition, there are many “firsts” in the Tokyo Olympics: the first Olympics where overseas spectators are not allowed to watch on-site, the first Olympics with empty competitions, and the first Olympics held in an emergency at the host site.
Out of the need for epidemic prevention and control, the Tokyo Olympics adopted the “bubble hosting” model, which is very popular in sports events under the epidemic, and strives to successfully host the Olympics. However, on the eve of the opening, the epidemic in Tokyo continued to worsen, clouding the prospects of the Olympics.
What about “bubble games”?
The so-called “bubble” means that athletes and coaches participating in the Olympic Games are restricted to a limited space through strict quarantine measures and contact isolation, as if they are wrapped in a bubble, to minimize the contact of participants with the outside world to control possible infections risk.
Since the outbreak of the new crown epidemic, “bubble games” have not been uncommon. Many sports events at home and abroad have adopted this model or similar forms for the sake of epidemic prevention. There are also precedents for successful “bubble games”. Take the International Table Tennis Competition held in China in December last year as an example. A total of 116 participants from 27 countries and regions entered the country. However, under the burden of epidemic prevention, China still succeeded in achieving “zero infection” results.
Liu Guoliang, Chairman of the Chinese Table Tennis Association and Chairman of the WTT World Table Tennis Federation, said that China’s holding of the International Table Tennis Competition is a huge challenge and a very bold decision. The pressure in this process is unprecedented. The epidemic prevention measures are crucial to restarting the event.
According to the information provided by the ITTF, this success has benefited from strict control measures including the new coronavirus test for all participants and staff every three days, and daily tests for high-risk groups. Relevant data shows that the China Table Tennis Association has arranged 1,141 new crown tests for participants, and has also provided thousands of tests for volunteers and other staff.
At the same time, the epidemic prevention regulations were strictly implemented during the competition, including the isolation of participants and staff, the elimination of venues and vehicles, a completely enclosed environment, and strict mask specifications. For example, during the ITTF finals in Zhengzhou, in order to prevent event participants from contacting the outside world, the hotel where the event staff are located separately reserved five floors on the top floor, and a special dining area was reserved in the restaurant to provide dedicated personnel for participants. Elevators and special entrances and exits create a completely enclosed prevention and control environment to block the risk of epidemics.
In addition, the ITTF pointed out that multi-party cooperation is also the key to success. While establishing a safe “bubble” environment, ITTF has worked closely with relevant Chinese organizations to jointly plan logistical work such as hotel, transportation and venue safety to ensure the safety of epidemic prevention.
Liu Guoliang emphasized, “China is brave enough to accept such opportunities and challenges, and it has also demonstrated to the world China’s ability to successfully prevent and control the epidemic.”
Internationally, there are also many successful cases. For example, in the Australian Open held in February this year, strict entry isolation and quarantine and strict implementation of “bubble” operations were implemented after a confirmed case of an epidemic on a flight, even when the city of Victoria, where Melbourne is located, suddenly began to implement a lockdown. , The audience was forcibly evacuated for empty games to prevent the epidemic.
Senior sports commentator Zhang Manlian said in an interview with the 21st Century Business Herald, “The Australian Open’s epidemic prevention policy can be regarded as a benchmark in the tennis tournament. Compared with the looseness of the US Open and the French Open in player hotel management, the Australian Open The organizing committee has formulated super strict epidemic prevention standards-all athletes must enter the country at least three weeks in advance, costly chartered flights to connect players from designated cities such as Los Angeles and Dubai, and implement a 14-day compulsory quarantine after landing in Australia, and conduct it every two days A nucleic acid test.”
Under such a high standard of epidemic prevention, the British star, three-time Grand Slam champion Murray and Austrian star Tim’s gold coach Ma Su, regretted that they missed the Australian Open because they contracted the new crown virus before leaving. .
Zhang Manchester United added, “The Australian Open Organizing Committee has strictly enforced the 14-day mandatory quarantine policy. Any player who wants to participate in the Australian Open must undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine in Australia, which also fundamentally eliminates the need for large-scale quarantine. The possibility of large-scale infection.”
These efforts have finally achieved “zero infection” results for athletes participating in the Australian Open. Craig Terry, chairman of the Australian Tennis Association and director of the Australian Open, pointed out that excellent epidemic prevention work requires more energy and resources.
According to Terry, the Australian Open and the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee have always maintained close communication, sharing a lot of information, including the frequency and type of nucleic acid tests for athletes, and how to deal with possible cases.
However, the challenges faced by the Tokyo Olympics in epidemic prevention work are more severe than those of individual events such as the Australian Open. Zhang Wenhong, director of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Huashan Hospital, believes that because the Tokyo Olympics is a sports event involving multiple countries and regions, only basic epidemic prevention strategies can be adopted in terms of epidemic prevention. It is necessary to have the ability to block cases that are not detected or false-negative, but also to have a large enough venue to ensure social distancing.
According to public information, the “bubbles” adopted by the Tokyo Olympics Organizing Committee this time are similar to other events, such as regular new crown testing, confinement of participants and staff to activities in specific areas, and special transportation for epidemic prevention. Ordinary people are isolated to avoid infection through communication. At the same time, the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee has also set up special rules for items that may be infected with the epidemic. For example, measures such as the prohibition of blowing the ball in the table tennis event and the cancellation of some torch relays are trying to control the possible infection risk.
Zhang Wenhong said that the Tokyo Olympics is a great challenge and attention should be paid to the mutating Delta strain. However, excessive protection should also be avoided. Vaccines + wearing masks + frequent hand washing + reducing physical contact are still effective measures to prevent and control the new crown epidemic.
The Olympic atmosphere on the streets of Tokyo is not strong
Despite stricter anti-epidemic measures, there are still uncertainties as to whether the Olympic Games can proceed smoothly. Many Olympic staff and athletes have been recruited one after another. According to public data from the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee, from July 1 to July 21, 71 Olympic-related people have tested positive for the new crown, including 40 Japanese nationals and 31 overseas people. Among the currently confirmed patients are many athletes from the United States, South Africa and other countries, as well as the former Olympic champion of South Korea and the current chairman of the Korean Table Tennis Association Yoo Seungmin. In addition, a mass infection broke out in the hotel where the Brazilian delegation stayed on the 14th, and 9 people were diagnosed.
According to the Chilean Olympic Committee’s confirmation on July 20, the country’s female Taekwondo player Fernanda Aguirre had to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics due to being diagnosed with new crown pneumonia and needing to be quarantined for at least 10 days. Aguire also became the first Olympic athlete to retire due to the new crown.
In this regard, Michiko Dohi, the chief liaison officer of the Japanese Olympic Committee for the new crown, said that after taking appropriate and strict measures, the game can be held safely. She said that most of the positive cases were infected before the delegation entered Japan.
However, Toshiro Muto, CEO of the Tokyo Olympics Organizing Committee, stated on July 20 that he did not rule out the possibility of canceling the Tokyo Olympics at the last minute. “I can’t judge how the number of new crown cases is expanding. What is certain is that if the number of cases continues to increase, we will hold a five-party meeting, so we must see how the future develops, and then decide what to do next. “
Earlier, Bach had emphasized that Japan’s epidemic prevention strategy can make Olympic participants “zero” the risk of Japanese nationals contracting the new crown pneumonia. However, in the current situation, the outside world is skeptical about whether the “bubble” strategy of the Tokyo Olympics will work.
Kenji Shibuya, the former director of the Institute of Population Health at King’s College London, said that Bach’s views would only “make people confused and angry” because the actual situation there is “completely opposite”. Shibuya believes that the current “bubble” may have burst.
Shibuya said, “My biggest concern is, of course, in the Olympic village or some places of stay, there will be group infections in the interactions between (Olympic participants) and local people.”
Shibuya pointed out that factors such as insufficient detection of the new crown and uncontrollable actions of people mean that the Olympic Games may intensify the spread of the Delta mutant strain.
In fact, the Japanese epidemic has already rebounded in early July. Since July 12th, Tokyo has officially entered the implementation period of the fourth emergency declaration to reduce the probability of people going out. Less than a month ago, Tokyo had just lifted its third emergency declaration.
According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University in the United States, as of July 19, Japan has added more than 2,000 new confirmed cases of new crowns in a single day for a week, and the average number of new confirmed cases in Tokyo in the past week has exceeded 1,000. On July 21, the number of new additions in a single day in Tokyo hit a new high since the outbreak of the epidemic.
Shi Liang (pseudonym), a Chinese who works in Tokyo, told the 21st Century Business Herald reporter that the rebound of the epidemic in Japan this time was very serious, exceeding all previous peaks. However, he pointed out that the people of Tokyo are basically numb to the epidemic, and the number of people traveling is also increasing. There are still many short holidays in Japan, and the epidemic may be difficult to contain in the short term.
Shi Liang also told reporters that although the opening of the Olympic Games has entered the final countdown stage, the Olympic atmosphere on the streets of Tokyo is not strong. “In fact, there are still some people who are unwilling to host the Olympics because the entry of a large number of delegations may worsen the epidemic.”
Shibuya pointed out that the results of Japan’s epidemic prevention and control prove that if the system of detection, testing, tracking, isolation and support is not strengthened, anti-epidemic measures that rely on voluntary actions and personal responsibility are not sustainable. The failure of Japanese political leadership and the lack of overall strategy have caused unavoidable damage to the entire society.
Shibuya believes that Japan needs to “reconsider” hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The current risks of the spread of variant viruses and consideration of the needs of the overall welfare of the society require the Japanese government to implement a “zero diagnosis” strategy as soon as possible.
(Author: Shi Shi, Edited by Wang Zihan: Chen Qingmei)