TOKYO, Japan — Athletes at the Tokyo Olympics will put their medals around their own necks to protect against spreading the coronavirus.
The “very significant change” to traditional medal ceremonies in the 339 events was revealed Wednesday by International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.
“The medals will not be given around the neck,” Bach told international media on a conference call from Tokyo. “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 a tray will do so only with disinfected gloves so that the athlete can be sure that nobody touched them before,” Bach added.
The Olympic approach is different from soccer in Europe where UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has personally hung medals around the necks of players at competition finals in recent weeks.
Ceferin also shook hands with Italy’s standout goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma at the Euro 2020 medal and trophy presentation in London on Sunday. Donnarumma’s save in a penalty shootout clinched the title for Italy against England.
Bach confirmed Wednesday that in Tokyo “there will be no shake hands and there will be no hugs there during the ceremony.”
Olympic medals are typically presented by an IOC member or a leading official in a sport’s governing body.
The IOC had previously said medalists and ceremony officials would have to wear masks.
With no paying spectators allowed to attend most Olympic events, what Bach described as an “immersive sound system” will try to create atmosphere for the athletes in the stadiums and venues.
Crowd noise recorded from each event at previous Olympics will be fed into the arena as one of several ways to support the athletes, he said.
Some athletes will be connected after their event via screens to their families, friends and fan clubs at home, while fans will be able to send video clips of up to six seconds that can be displayed next to the field of play.
The Tokyo Olympics open July 23 in a state of emergency and rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the city.