The AOC has launched a project to assist with challenges associated to Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has launched a project which aims to assist Australian athletes manage challenges related to qualification, competing and returning from the rearranged Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Known as Project Wagasa, the Japanese for umbrella, the initiative will provide guidance to member sports and their athletes.

Qualifying events, overseas competitions, pre-Games training camps and Tokyo 2020 will be the focus of the project.

The project will also include preparations for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

"Our job is to ensure the sports can qualify their athletes with least amount of logistical difficulty and assemble the Australian Team next year to have their Olympic moment," said Matt Carroll, AOC chief executive.

"The Games are on and we are going to fulfil our promise.

"In achieving that goal, the safety of athletes and officials is paramount.

"This is a huge project - factoring in the difficulties of travelling from Australia, safely competing and then returning home post-competition.

"All of this in the face of changing global travel restrictions, quarantine arrangements, event uncertainty and other variables.

"While sports have responsibility for preparing athletes in the pre-Games period, the liaison and advice from the Project Wagasa team is critical in assisting decision making and managing the risk.

"To that end, we are working closely with every sport, one-on-one to understand and deliver on their needs.

"For us to undertake this work we are very well supported by Federal and State Government departments and agencies.

"It is a Team Australia effort for which our sports and athletes are greatly appreciative."

AOC chief executive Matt Carroll said the project aims to assist decision-making and manage risk ©Getty Images
AOC chief executive Matt Carroll said the project aims to assist decision-making and manage risk ©Getty Images

The AOC says the key activities of the project were devised in August.

These include close liaison and communication protocols with relevant Federal Government and State Government agencies, as well as detailed one-on-one discussions with all Olympic sports on their specific needs.

The AOC says it has created a comprehensive snapshot of planned movement of athletes seeking qualification to compete in Tokyo.

Ongoing communication with sports and athletes with accurate and relevant information has been stressed, as well as observing major milestones of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The AOC says the project has four phases, with the first being the qualification, test events and training.

The pre-Games training camps will run from June to early July next year, while assembling the Australian Olympic team will be the third phase in July.

The final phase is dedicated to returning home from Tokyo in August next year.

The AOC has announced a partnership with health specialists Aspen Medical to provide a range of specialist services to assist in the process.

Aspen Medical will assist in producing checklists to assist National Federations risk-assess attending international events, protocols to minimise COVID-19 transmission risk when attending events, training, competing and in transit, and assistance in the creation of an Olympic quarantine solution conforming with Government requirements.

The company will also devise protocols to minimise COVID-19 transmission at pre-Games training camps and help assess locations to travel to the Games via to ensure all test negative on arrival.

"Aspen Medical brings a wealth of expertise and experience in this critical space," Carroll said.

"They will work with the Project Wagasa team to make sure we leave no stone unturned.

"Aspen Medical understands the challenges we face and we couldn’t ask for a better partner to help meet those challenges."

Tokyo 2020 Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman underlined that participant safety is of the upmost importance.

Chesterman said new information will continue to be included into Project Wagasa, such as the recent confirmation from the IOC that athletes will be asked to arrive in the Athletes’ Village five days prior to competition and leave two days after their events have concluded.

The AOC hopes the project aids sports to qualify their athletes with the least amount of logistical difficulty ©Getty Images
The AOC hopes the project aids sports to qualify their athletes with the least amount of logistical difficulty ©Getty Images

"The AOC has moved to be very proactive to be able to provide the best possible advice and safety net for our athletes and support staff as we prepare for the Games, and at the Games," Chesterman said.

"I know that the IOC and the Tokyo organisers also share our commitment to provide a safe environment for all.

"We recognise that this continues to be a challenging time for our athletes, and with the impacts of COVID around the world there’s particular uncertainty for those looking to attend qualification events and other competitions.

"So, we are on the front foot to provide the very best support and solutions the lead up and at the Games.

"We’re looking to take a Team of around 480 athletes across 37 sports to Tokyo - likely to be the third biggest team at the Games, only behind Japan and the USA.

"This is a big job and having the expertise of Aspen Medical behind us is massive help.

"Every athlete is important and we will do whatever we can for them to realise their Olympic dreams.

"We also acknowledge the very promising news regarding vaccines and rapid testing technologies, nevertheless we are working on more conservative assumptions, so nothing is left to chance.

"While there is more detail to follow, we now know that the IOC and the Organisers are looking to minimise the numbers in the Olympic Village at any one time and have issued guidelines that will see all countries effectively adopting a fly-in, fly-out model for athletes and support staff.

"There’s a lot still to be worked through with further information to follow and this will all be factored into the ongoing work with Project Wagasa."