Olympic Team Doctor Believes Canada ‘Can Bring A Team In And Out’ From The Olympics

“If I didn’t think we could do it safely and put the mitigation measures in place, I wouldn’t confidently say that yes, we can bring a team in safely and get them out safely. security. Most importantly, bring them home without getting infected or bringing transmission to Canada. I think the metrics are working, I think we can do it. “

There was no positive test among the Canadian team of 371 athletes in Tokyo. Marathon runner Dayna Pidhoresky was forced to quarantine herself in her hotel room in Japan for two weeks before running after a passenger on her flight tested positive for the virus.

“To be honest, our biggest problem was the close contact rules when people entered Japan,” Wilkinson said in an interview Tuesday with The Canadian Press. “From a Japanese perspective, they were doing everything possible to limit any transmission from anyone coming to Japan, in their population throughout the Games. And it worked.

It goes without saying that the key for Beijing will be to avoid a positive test, both at the Games and in these key final weeks of preparation.

The IOC has put in place stricter security measures for Beijing, including making surgical masks or N95 masks mandatory. Cloth masks no longer cut it. Although participants are not required to be vaccinated, there is a mandatory three-week quarantine on arrival in China for unvaccinated people, which has “made it almost impossible to compete if you are not vaccinated.” , Wilkinson said.

All Games participants, including athletes, coaches, officials, media and others, will remain in a “closed loop” bubble during their stay in Beijing and be tested regularly.

Wilkinson rejected talks of a three to five week quarantine for anyone who tested positive in Beijing, saying it was a rumor the IOC has categorically rejected since.

There are two levels of quarantine, affecting either people who were close contacts or those who test positive. Close contacts will be quarantined in their own accommodation with improved testing and security measures.

A person who tests positive will be placed in isolation until they can produce two negative tests, “and depending on whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic, (either) a designated isolation hotel or end up having to go. in the hospital, then she will be tested every day.

Team Canada staff have put in place their own security measures at the Tokyo Games, which have been postponed for a year due to the pandemic. Among them: Canada had its own gymnasium and its own bikes for getting around the Athletes’ Village. In Beijing, they will have a staff member in each of the three villages whose job is to monitor and maintain adequate sanitation.

“We learned good information from (Tokyo) about the increase in the number of contaminants in some of the common areas. So things like the OCOG (Olympic Organizing Committee) gymnasium versus the Canadian gymnasium. There was a 3-400-fold increase in contaminants in some of the OCOG spaces and things like the community bikes that were available in Tokyo. “

As a non-pandemic Olympics approach, the COC has reportedly made numerous site visits already, but not having been an option, Wilkinson said he would assess the safety of spaces such as the village dining hall. athletes once arrived.

The athletes are heading towards the home stretch of their preparation in Beijing. They train, compete and travel overseas, and many have yet to qualify for the Games.

Among communications with athletes, Wilkinson said, they are being encouraged to get booster shots, and with the pan-Canadian rollout, he said they will all be able to get one before boarding flights to Beijing. All Canadian Olympic and Paralympic teams must already be doubly vaccinated to compete.

And, especially as the holidays approach, athletes are encouraged to tighten their bubbles, to avoid contact with cases.

Wilkinson, who was the director of medical services for the Vancouver Games in 2010 – where the H1N1 virus threatened to wreak havoc – said staying on top of news and being able to pivot in a changing landscape was essential.

“We’ve said it before, we’re going to continue to see new variants across the world through this pandemic, in fact it’s almost endemic now. And each one, we have to adapt, and we have to implement all the learning that we have had before in order to manage it, ”he said.

The common joke is, “We put a plan in place, but as soon as I push the send, we have to change it just because we learn more and more things become available,” he said. -he declares.

“(I) won’t be bored. Let’s put it that way.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on December 21, 2021.

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press


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