Athletes who make it to the Olympic podium during the upcoming Tokyo Games will be tasked with draping medals around their own necks as a precaution to protect against the transmission of COVID-19.
The change from the usual medal ceremonies was divulged Wednesday by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, the Associated Press reported.
“The medals will not be given around the neck,” Bach informed international media during a conference call, according to the AP. “They will be presented to the athlete on a tray and then the athlete will take the medal him or herself.
“It will be made sure that the person who will put the medal on the tray will do so only with disinfected gloves, so that the athlete can be sure that nobody touched them before,” he said.
Bach said that “there will be no handshakes and there will be no hugs during the ceremony.”
The AP noted that the IOC had previously indicated that medalists and ceremony officials would need to wear masks. The outlet reported that “medals are typically presented by an IOC member or a leading official in a sport’s governing body.”
The Tokyo Olympics were originally scheduled to be held in 2020 but the globally watched spectacle was pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Games are slated to begin July 23.
But while much time has passed since the decision to postpone the 2020 Olympics, nations are still grappling with the pandemic.
And although the Games will go on, they will not be exactly the same.
The typical roaring crowds of spectators will not be present as fans have been barred from attending the events at Tokyo-area venues.
“The ban covers Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures — Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba. A smattering of events in outlying areas, like baseball in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima, will allow a limited number of fans,” the AP reported last week in an article about the ban.
The outlet also noted that months before the recent announcement blocking fans from attending, spectators from abroad had already been prohibited from going to the Games.
Crowd sounds recorded at events from prior Olympics will be pumped into the arena as one of multiple methods to support athletes, Bach said, according to the AP.