Olympics to have DIY medal ceremony

Olympic champions at the Tokyo Games will have to pick up their medals themselves while they are on the podium, instead of having VIPs hanging the medals around their necks.

There will also be no handshakes or hugs with the dignitaries, to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infections.

"The medals will not be given around the neck," International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach told a virtual media conference yesterday, ahead of the Tokyo Games from July 23 to Aug 8.

"They will be presented to the athlete on a tray and the athlete will take the medal him or herself.

"It will be made sure the person who will put the medal on the tray will do it with disinfected gloves. Presenters and athletes will wear a mask.

"There will be no handshakes and no hugs during the ceremony."

Bach also pledged "not to bring any risk" to Japan with the Games, seeking to reassure a sceptical public as virus cases surge just over a week before Tokyo 2020 begins.

Fans have been banned from Olympic events in the capital, where a state of emergency has been imposed until after the Games end. Tokyo recorded 1,149 new Covid-19 cases yesterday, the most in nearly six months.

The Olympics have lost much public support in Japan because of fears they will trigger a surge of infections. Officials said yesterday that a Covid-19 cluster has been detected at a Japanese hotel where dozens of Brazilian Olympic team members are staying.

Seven employees at the hotel in Hamamatsu, south-west of Tokyo, have tested positive, said a city official, but the 31 members of the Brazilian Olympic delegation, which includes judo athletes, are in a "bubble" inside the hotel, separated from other guests and have not been infected.

"We are making all our efforts and the Japanese people have all our commitment to contribute in the best way to fight this virus and not to bring any risk to the Japanese people," Bach told reporters after meeting Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

He said 85 per cent of all the residents in the Olympic Village and almost 100 per cent of the IOC members and staff heading to Tokyo arrive vaccinated.

"This is why I'd like to humbly ask the Japanese people to warmly welcome the athletes... who have overcome, like the Japanese people, so many challenges." - AFP, REUTERS