The International Olympic Committee has reminded competitors not to hug while accepting their medals on the podium at the Tokyo Olympics.
However, the IOC, the governing body of the national Olympic committees, said on Sunday that athletes could remove their masks for no more than 30 seconds during medal ceremonies to take photos. Yet, IOC spokesperson Mark Adams said the organization had banned celebratory hugs at the Olympics.
“No, there is no relaxation,” Adams said when asked if there were any changes to the rules about hugging. “We urge and ask everyone to obey the rules, whatever stakeholder you are. It’s not a ‘nice to have’ — it is a must-have. It’s important, both for the sports and for everyone involved and, of course, for our Japanese partners and friends particularly.”
Adams added, “It also sends a strong message so we would ask and urge people to please follow the playbooks. I think yesterday, [IOC Sports Director] Christophe Dubi put it very well. We understand, we’re all here, there is a lot excitement. And of course, when you win a medal … we feel for the athletes. There are things that, unfortunately, we have had to make [the rules] stricter.”
The International Olympic Committee’s executive director of the Games, Dubi, said at a press conference on Saturday, “Every time we see someone without a mask, and that happens a little bit everywhere, it’s our duty, all of us, to say, ‘Reminder, mask please.’ And in most of the cases, people do simply forget. If you have blatant behaviors that are absolutely unbearable, we will definitely take action.”
While the new rules are unprecedented for the athletes, officials with the Olympics encourage everyone to follow the COVID-19 protocols during the Games.
Confusion Over Masks, Hugging at Podium Druing Tokyo Olympics
Adams added: “These messages are constantly passed, not just to athletes but to all of us. It’s really in our interests, and the interests of everyone, and the interests of a safe and secure Games.”
Multiple Team USA swimmers briefly removed their maks during photographs as they smiled with their various medals, including USA gold medalist Chase Kalisz.
“Ideally, I will wear it as much as possible. If I had the mask off on the podium, it was really because someone was holding a sign,” Kalisz told ESPN about wearing his mask. “I can’t speak for what the proper protocol was, but he had a sign on the podium that said ‘mask off, mask on,’ so that’s what we did.”
According to People, currently, there have been at least 123 coronavirus cases tied to the Olympics. Moreso, numerous Team USA athletes had to withdraw from the Games. For example, tennis player Coco Gauff had to cancel at the last minute because of an infection.