‘Least desirable guest at any party’: Botched US COVID response puts Olympic participation in danger

Credit: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

[The U.S.] usually has the largest contingent of athletes at the Summer Games. And it’s the highest-value single market for Olympic broadcast rights, the International Olympic Committee’s primary source of revenue.

It’s also, by coronavirus metrics, the least desirable guest at any party. The U.S. leads the world in confirmed cases of the virus and in confirmed deaths from the disease… That creates a thorny hospitality dilemma for Tokyo, as the host of the rescheduled 2021 Summer Olympics—one that Team USA is keenly aware of and already seeking ways to defuse, U.S. Olympic officials say.

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Without knowing what the IOC or Tokyo 2020 organizers will demand, Team USA’s [Jonathan] Finnoff is offering to take additional measures in order to ensure that Americans are admissible—and safe. “If we need to go above and beyond what they have in place, then we will do so,” he said.

One option for teams, he noted, is quarantining athletes for 14 days before they travel, to ensure that they are free from the virus. Teams could take steps to secure negative Covid tests for athletes before they board a plane, and again upon their arrival.

Teams could go even further and charter their own flights in and out of Japan rather than traveling commercially, to avoid greater exposure to the virus, as well as creating a layer of reassurance for the outside world.

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