Disease prevention coordinators are to be part of the support staff when the first group of Taiwan’s Olympic athletes leaves for Tokyo today, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital said in a statement yesterday.
It would be the first time the national Olympic team has included disease prevention specialists, who have been made essential due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The hospital would send three doctors and one athletic trainer with Taiwan’s 68 athletes, said Lin Yin-chou (林瀛洲), director of the Fitness Center at the hospital’s Taoyuan branch.
Two disease prevention coordinators would also accompany the athletes, the hospital said, adding that they would be responsible for conducting the athletes’ daily COVID-19 tests.
Attending the Olympic Games on the national team’s support staff for the third time, Lin said that he and his colleagues have experience dealing with sporting events struck by infectious diseases, referring to the 2015 Summer Universiade in Gwangju, South Korea, and the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
In 2015, South Korea was fighting an outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome, and in 2016, Brazil was battling the Zika virus.
The support staff is to have 25 medical personnel: four physicians, 11 athletic trainers, eight physiotherapists and two disease prevention coordinators, an earlier government news release said.
After being tested for COVID-19 twice in the 96 hours before today’s departure, the group of 134 athletes, officials and support staff are to be tested again at the airport before boarding a chartered flight for Japan, Lin said.
In addition to daily virus testing, the athletes have been provided with a thermometer and must report their temperatures and overall health status each day via a smartphone app, Lin added.
On Friday, Tokyo Games organizers notified the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee that tennis players Hsieh Yu-chieh (謝語倢) and Hsu Chieh-yu (許絜瑜) could compete in the women’s doubles.
The playbook published by the organizers requires athletes to leave Japan “no more than 48 hours after the completion of their competition or when they are eliminated,” so Taiwan’s athletes, who are to compete in 18 sports, are to depart in groups.
Meanwhile, Minister Without Portfolio Audrey Tang (唐鳳) would not be attending the Tokyo Olympics due to the prevention measures adopted by Japan, the Executive Yuan said yesterday.
Tang was set to represent the Taiwanese government, in place of Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠), at the Tokyo Games’ opening ceremony on Friday.
The Sports Administration is overseen by the Ministry of Education, which is why the minister of education typically represents the government at the Games.
On July 10, the Executive Yuan said that Tang would fill in for Pan, who must prepare for two nationwide exams at the end of this month.
Yesterday, Executive Yuan spokesperson Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) said that the International Olympic Committee had informed all national committees that due to the pandemic, few people would be allowed to participate in the opening ceremony.
The ceremony is to be limited to athletes, the national committee chairpersons and secretaries-general, heads of state and heads of government, Lo said, adding that Tang did not fall into any of the categories.
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