The International Olympic Committee (IOC), together with other sporting organisations, has recently contributed to the drafting of a document published by the World Health Organization (WHO) which provides specific public health guidance for organisers of sports events.
This document complements WHO’s existing guidelines on mass gatherings in the context of COVID-19. Drafted following a consultation process with a number of sporting organisations, including the IOC and its Medical and Scientific Department, the WHO guidelines aim to provide additional support to sports event organisers and host countries in developing a risk assessment process, identifying mitigation activities and making an informed evidence-based decision on hosting any sporting events. The guidelines can be found here.
The first section of the WHO document includes key considerations on a number of topics, such as lower and higher risk sports, size of event, indoor or outdoor locations, venue facilities, demographics and risk communication. Comments are provided on each item, along with risk factors and mitigation measures to consider.
The second part is a checklist for sports events organisers and participants, with recommendations to take into account prior to and during the actual events.
The IOC has shared the guidelines with International Federations (IFs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs), and asked for comments and feedback while the situation continues to evolve.
On 16 April, WHO organised a webinar with several sports organisations in order to explain the guidelines in detail and help them assess risks.
WHO was instrumental in providing real-time information to the IOC during the discussions that led to the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and continues to give advice as it gathers additional knowledge and understanding of COVID-19. WHO continues to advise the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee on how to ensure that the Olympic Games will take place in a safe environment for all those involved, protecting the health of everyone.
The IOC and WHO have enjoyed a long-lasting partnership since the early 1980s that has led to numerous joint initiatives and collaborations aiming to promote healthy lifestyles and grassroots sports activities worldwide and fight physical inactivity, as one of the most important risk factors for non-communicable diseases.
Past initiatives with WHO include the implementation of a tobacco-free policy at Olympic Games venues and health promotion campaigns targeting the local population of the Olympic host cities.