USA Track & Field’s governing body said its athletes do not have to be vaccinated against COVID-19 ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, but it will be mandatory for all staff members making the trip.
Max Siegel, USA Track & Field’s chief executive, spoke to reporters Tuesday and USATF has been encouraging athletes to get vaccinated and said they have not heard of any pushback, Reuters reports.
“We have mandated for our staff to be vaccinated. We have encouraged, but not mandated, our athletes to be vaccinated,” Siegel said. “We’ve done a lot in terms of education to our athletes and coaches on how to mitigate risk.”
USATF will hold its Olympic trials from June 18-27 in Eugene, Oregon, and said anyone who gets near an athlete will already have been vaccinated.
Siegel said the USATF’s COVID-19 protocols exceed the playbook of rules prepared by Olympic Games’ organizers with regards to infection control and that its Journey to Gold series of meets has given athletes a feel for what to expect.
“In real time they have been accustomed to the testing protocol,” Siegel said, per Reuters. “They’ve been in the environment with our Journey to Gold competitions and that has really been an opportunity for us to further educate them on movement, risk mitigation and those kinds of things.”
USATF said personal coaches will be allowed at the Tokyo Olympics but they are still working through protocols in terms of logistics as to when they arrive, how they can contact their athletes and if they will be allowed into the venue, the article states.
“To simply say it, they will have to stay within a bubble, so to speak, as it relates to their athletes,” said USATF Chief Operating Officer Renee Washington. “And then, maybe for the final, if they go outside of that bubble and they want to actually go into the stadium that will be the last contact with the athlete.”