The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has clarified rules around mask wearing and social distancing after footage on the pool deck raised questions about Covid-19 protocols in Tokyo.
The sight of swimmers standing on the podium receiving medals without masks made some onlookers raise eyebrows.
On Sunday, the IOC said masks were mandatory for athletes when not competing, training or eating out.
“We will urge and ask everyone to follow the rules, no matter what party you are involved in,” said IOC spokesman Mark Adams.
“It is not nice to have, it is a must have, both for the sport and for everyone involved.
“It sends a powerful message so keep an eye on the books.
“We understand there is excitement and we feel for the athletes but unfortunately we had to put in place more stringent regulations.
“These messages are delivered continuously, not just to the athletes.
“It’s in our interest and in everyone’s interest.”
However, the IOC later clarified its policy that allowed athletes to remove their masks for a short period of time when posing for pictures with their medals.
Swimmers – including Australia’s winning 4x100m freestyle relay team and Brendon Smith, who won bronze in the individual 400m – were among those photographed without a mask for some time. short.
The Australian team has defended its swimmers against suggestions that they have done anything wrong.
“Our athletes simply followed the direction of the official on the podium, who held up a sign that briefly said masks for photos. That’s what our girls did,” a statement said.
“The IOC has confirmed this and there’s nothing wrong with athletes doing this.”
Americans Chase Kalisz and Jay Litherland, who won gold and silver in the 400m IM respectively, were also seen hugging after their race and not wearing masks next to Smith as the trio were being medaled. their.
After initial strong wording, the IOC outlined an updated policy allowing athletes to take off their masks for 30 seconds to take photos on the podium.
An IOC spokesperson said: “The swimmers at the venue this morning followed the instructions they were given by the protocol team.
“These guidelines are in line with a new policy that is being made available to all.
“It gives you the opportunity to take a socially distant photo for up to 30 seconds on the platform.”
An official held up a sign telling competitors when they could take off their masks for a short photo opportunity.
“We all wore masks, I just took it away because some guy with a sign told me to do so,” Kalisz said at a news conference after winning the gold medal in swimming. “That was the only time they got a break.
“I can’t say what the proper protocol was but he had a sign on the platform saying put on a mask, put on a mask – so that’s what we did.
“Ideally I would wear it (my mask) as much as possible. If I take off my mask on the podium it’s really because someone is holding a sign. “
Members of the Aussie relay team were seen diligently putting on their masks shortly after their race, and only taking them off during the allotted 30-second period when explicitly told by an official.
https://www.foxsports.com.au/tokyo-olympics-2021/tokyo-olympics-2021-swimming-results-medals-podium-photo-controversy-masks-off-during-medal-presentations-rules/news-story/2268bbbfd2467d2fee1fd10214761607 | Podium photo controversy, masks off during medal presentations, rules