Kiwi Olympic great: We have to have seven negative Covid tests before we can mingle

Author
Neil Reid, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 18 Jul 2021, 10:41AM
Nick Willis - pictured after winning bronze at the 2016 Olympics - will need to post seven negative Covid-19 tests before mingling with his New Zealand team mates. Photo / INPHO/James Crombie
Nick Willis - pictured after winning bronze at the 2016 Olympics - will need to post seven negative Covid-19 tests before mingling with his New Zealand team mates. Photo / INPHO/James Crombie

Kiwi Olympic great: We have to have seven negative Covid tests before we can mingle

Author
Neil Reid, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 18 Jul 2021, 10:41AM

Kiwi Olympic great Nick Willis has revealed more details on how Tokyo Games bosses are trying to reduce the risk of a Covid-19 outbreak – including competitors having to post seven negative tests before they can mingle with others in the Athletes' Village.

In a video post to his 32,7000 followers on Instagram, the two-time Olympic 1500m medallist has spoken of the steps that Olympians have to take to represent their countries in Tokyo; regardless of whether they have been vaccinated against Covid-19 or not.

Speaking from his base in America, Willis made the recording as he was travelling to a pharmacy to get the first of three Covid-19 tests – which must return negative results - before he is allowed to fly to Tokyo.

"Then my understanding is once we arrive at the airport we have to take one, we have to wait for an hour in the terminal before they let us out," Willis said.

"Then we stay the night in a sort of quarantine section of the village where we have to test negative again before they let us out into the second stage of quarantine. If we are successful for three days testing negative every single day in the village then they let us out into the general population in the village.

"So I believe that adds up to seven total tests that we take before entering the general population of the village. And that is while being fully vaccinated."

The Tokyo Olympics will officially begin on Friday after being delayed a year due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Willis, 38, narrowly qualified for the Olympics after earlier winning a silver medal in Beijing in 2008 and a bronze medal in Rio in 2016

He said he wanted to speak out in a bid to quell criticism of the Olympics going ahead.

"I want to talk about this because I know there is a certain per cent of the population who thinks the Olympics shouldn't go ahead.

"But if this alleviates any fears about the spread of Covid during the Games . . . all the different member federations are going to quite extreme lengths to make sure that all of the athletes coming in are going to be as best as possible protected against bringing in this into the general population."

Willis added that athletes also would not be mixing with the general public.

The bubble-type existence that all Olympic competitors will operate under during the Tokyo Olympics includes no fans at stadiums.

Mask wearing is mandatory at the village – which will host about 18,000 athletes and officials. And all athletes and officials in the village will undergo daily testing.

It was also revealed last week that medallists also will neither shake hands or receive their medals from officials. Instead, athletes would pick up their own medals from a tray.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said steps would also be taken to ensure no germs could be passed on via the medals.

"It will be made sure that the person who will put the medal on the tray will do so only with disinfected gloves, so that the athlete can be sure that nobody touched them before."

Willis said competitors would be "completely bubbled from the rest of Japan while we are there".

Despite the fact Covid-19 was still flaring up in parts of Japan, Willis told his followers he had no doubt the Olympics should still go ahead.

"I am in favour of the Olympics going ahead and I am really excited for them," he said.

"These are steps that I think for those of us who are vaccinated are completely unnecessary. But I and many other athletes are completely willing to undergo to just give assurance that the policies and procedures are very strict and adhered to so there is not any chance for people to falsify documentation of vaccination cards or anything like that."

The New Zealand Olympic Committee has previously said the wellbeing of all of our athletes was its priority.