Following concerns ICSD members, Caxias 2022 Organising Committee have issued provisional plans for safeguarding Deaflympic athletes against the Coronavirus.
International news sources have been highlighting the political stance of Brazilian President Bolsonaro and his unconventional attitudes towards tacking Covid-19, this has raised concerns from ICSD members that the Caxias 2022 organisers will not be able to provide adequate Covid security for athletes and officials attending next year’s 24th Summer Deaflympics in Caxias do Sul in Southern Brazil.
Local Organising Committee CEO Richard Douglas Ewald and his team have issued health safety protocols for participants in an attempt to reassure people that it will be safe to attend the games without getting infected. Because of the constant change in the impact of the virus, the protocols are issued as if ‘the competition would be today’ and a final decision on protocol will be issued on 20th March 2022.
What are the Safeguards?
The protocols currently in place state that ten days before departure, Chef de Missions must send a list of all participants who have been vaccinated at least 2 weeks before departure and everyone must have proof of negative PCR results 72 hours prior to departure.
Travel instructions direct teams to travel to a regional airport Porto Alegre Salgado Filho International Airport where everyone will have to test negative on a Rapid Antigen test before receiving a Welcome Pack and transportation to the Accreditation centre in Caxias do Sul.
Anyone who tests positive in the Rapid Antigen test or has been unable to get PCR tested before travel (or claim to have lost proof of tests in transit) will, at their own expense, have to take a PCR test upon arrival at the airport and be held in isolation until the result is issued. If they test negative, they can travel on to Caxias. Anyone testing positive will be referred to hospital for treatment following Brazilian medical protocols.
Travellers without a valid vaccination Certificate will be quarantined for 5 days in the ‘final destination city’ and then they will have to produce a negative PCR test at the end of isolation otherwise they will be referred to hospital for treatment.
There are further special rules for people originating or passing through South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe. (No details were given in the protocol) it can be reasonably assumed this may related to the Omicron variant.
Will this information satisfy Chef de Missions?
Chef de Missions, Medical and security officers will now examine the content of the protocol and determine whether this gives them reassurance that their athletes and officials will be Covid secure.
One possible question that will need to be answered will be the concern of cross contamination between athletes of different nations who are likely to board planes taking the domestic route to the local airport and then how are they going to ensure that there is further protections from those athletes/officials who will have been unvaccinated whilst everyone is waiting in the arrivals terminal, for example, to collect personal belongings at the luggage carousel and then in the airport when waiting to be tested.
There is a second Travel Package communication declaring that five days before the Opening Ceremony special buses will be laid on to transport accredited persons from their hotels to a central transit and information point which has been named Deaflympic Square which will be accessible by accredited persons for central information and also serve as a transport exchange hub between the sports venues.
There is no further information explaining how athletes and officials will be safeguarded against infections by the local population. The Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games protocols strictly forbade any ‘tourism’, sightseeing or shopping by athletes in order to protect their health. There was no ‘hanging around’ after their events had concluded as people travelled home immediately afterwards. Reading the Travel Package clearly shows that athletes will be housed in local hotels and they will be have access to a sightseeing and shopping app which suggests that there are currently no plans to further isolate anyone once they have tested negative on arrival at the local airport.