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COVID-19 vaccinations will not be mandatory for the competing athletes under the new rules, though they must get tested for the virus before and after arriving in Tokyo

By Eric Todisco
February 03, 2021 12:02 PM
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JAVIER SORIANO/AFP/Getty Images

A ban on physical touch among Olympic athletes is one of several strict new rules being implemented for the Summer Games in Tokyo later this year.

On Wednesday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) published the first of its official Tokyo 2020 Playbooks that outline rules and regulations that will be put into place at the Games, which will begin on July 23 and go until Aug. 8 after being postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the new rules, athletes and officials must wear a face mask "at all times" unless they are sleeping, eating, or at least six feet away from others while outside. Physical contact, such as hugs, handshakes, and high-fives, should also be avoided, the playbook states.

In addition, athletes and officials will not be able to use public transportation without permission. Athletes are also barred from visiting venues as spectators.

Spectators are encouraged to support the competing athletes by "clapping and not singing or chanting" from the stands, the rules state. The number of spectators being allowed at the Games is yet to be determined.

Tokyo 2020
Credit: CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty

Athletes and officials do not have to get vaccinated for the Games, the playbook says, but they must show proof of a negative coronavirus test before departure and take another test upon arrival in Tokyo, dependent upon where they are traveling from.

Still, the IOC and the National Olympic Committes (NOCs) will work together "to encourage and assist their athletes, officials and stakeholders to get vaccinated in their home countries" before traveling to Japan.

Failure to comply with the rules may result in removal from the Games, the playbook states.

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Back in March of last year, the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) executive board met to finalize the postponement of the 2020 Olympics and announced that the event would instead be held in 2021.

Then last month — in response to a report from The Times of London that the Games would be canceled — the local organizing committee responded in a statement that the Olympics were still on and had the support of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

"All our delivery partners including the national government, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, the IOC and the IPC [International Paralympic Committee] are fully focused on hosting the games this summer," read the statement, according to ESPN. "We hope that daily life can return to normal as soon as possible, and we will continue to make every effort to prepare for a safe and secure games."

At the time, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee also noted that it had not been informed of any change in the status of the upcoming event.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.