How to Implement Covid Protocols for Large Events

Jason Gewirtz of SportsTravel shares his experience attending the 2021 Olympics and the safety lessons meeting planners can take away.

Jason Gewirtz, editor and publisher of SportsTravel, has been covering the Olympics for several years, but this year's Games have been an experience like no other. Even with no spectators permitted, an estimated 50,000 people will visit Tokyo for this year's competitions. All were issued extensive Covid-safety protocols to follow before and during the event.

Tokyo Olympics Eventful Podcast

In the latest episode of the Eventful podcast, Gewirtz shares his experience with Loren Edelstein, vice president and content director for Northstar Meetings Group, and explains how the Olympics might set an example in Covid safety for other large-scale global events.

Among the points that were discussed:  

  • All participants needed two negative Covid tests prior to arrival, and then were tested again at the airport — a six-hour process! (2:05)
  • There was a lot of criticism about whether this event should even take place, with Covid rates in Tokyo even higher than they were last year when the Games were postponed. (6:25)
  • Logistics involved an extensive transportation system connecting the Olympic venues with about 200 area hotels. Public transit was off limits, per Covid protocols. (9:40)
  • Media members were required to wear masks at all times. (10:55)
  • For athletes on the medal stands, the 30 seconds that were allowed for photographers to get pictures of the competitors without their masks was not quite long enough. (11:30)
  • Extensive and well-organized testing throughout the event was critical to the safety plan. (15:00)
  • The loss of revenue from tickets sales and spectator spending is financially devastating to the host city. (18:45)
  • Planners of large-scale sporting events, meetings and conventions can learn from what worked — and what didn't — in providing a Covid-safe international gathering. (21:45)

SportsTravel produces the TEAMS Conference and Expo, the world’s leading show for the sports-events industry. This year’s event, hosted by Meet AC and the Atlantic City Sports Commission, will be held Sept. 27-30 in Atlantic City.

Listen to the in-depth conversation in our latest episode of Eventful: The Podcast for Meeting Professionals, and remember to subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts and anywhere else you listen to podcasts.