GENEVA – A day after the Swiss team leader called for talks on a possible postponement of the Beijing Olympics due to the coronavirus pandemic, the IOC on Wednesday promised officials around the world that the Games would winter would go as planned.
The Swiss Olympic Committee said the IOC, in a video conference with the teams, gave assurances about the organization of the event next month.
The International Olympic Committee has also promised case-by-case assessments of athletes who are recovering after testing positive for COVID-19 before traveling to China, the Swiss team said in a statement.
“The issue of a postponement is no longer relevant to all of us,” Swiss team leader Ralph Stöckli said in the statement.
The International Olympic Committee hopes to avoid a second consecutive delay. The Tokyo Games, initially scheduled for 2020, have been postponed for a year. This decision was taken four months before the scheduled opening ceremony.
However, Stöckli, speaking in an interview with Swiss television on Tuesday, expressed concerns over the continuation of the Beijing Olympics amid the growing number of athletes infected with COVID-19.
“We really need to discuss the possibility of postponing the Games,” Stöckli told French public broadcaster RTS. “If we don’t have the best athletes out there it will be very, very difficult.”
After having listened to the IOC on Wednesday, the Swiss Olympic team declared itself “satisfied to have now certain certainties on this subject”.
Another Swiss concern that was assuaged on Wednesday was the wait times before an athlete was allowed to enter China after recovering from a COVID-19 infection. The IOC and Chinese organizers said a panel of international experts would assess individual cases and deal with the issue “more flexibly,” the Swiss team said.
“This is a positive signal,” Stöckli said, otherwise, given the current high case rates, “we should have assumed that many athletes, no longer at risk of infection, would have been deprived of their dream of participate in the Olympic Games “.
Still, the team noted “very demanding” conditions to compete, qualify and prepare with the Opening Ceremony on February 4, just 30 days away.
Stöckli acknowledged on Wednesday “that there will likely be disappointments” for those athletes who find themselves unable to compete.
Beijing organizers and the IOC are creating a health security bubble for the Olympics with stricter tests and travel and travel limits than those imposed at the Tokyo Games last year.
The rules include a 21-day quarantine for athletes, officials and workers not fully vaccinated, daily testing even for those vaccinated, and keeping local staff in the bubble.
International fans are once again being sidelined, although tickets to attend stadium events are sold to people living in China.