Athletes to Put on Own Medals at Tokyo Olympics to Prevent Spread of COVID-19

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJuly 14, 2021

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 16:  Gold medalist Simone Biles of the United States celebrates on the podium at the medal ceremony for the Women's Floor on Day 11 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Rio Olympic Arena on August 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 at the Tokyo Olympics, athletes will put medals on themselves instead of officials putting them around their necks like in past years.

"The medals will not be given around the neck," International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach told reporters Wednesday, per the Associated Press. "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 tray will do so only with disinfected gloves so that the athlete can be sure that nobody touched them before."

The decision comes after the Japanese government declared a state of emergency in Tokyo amid a new rise in cases for the COVID-19 pandemic. The Olympicsโ€”which were already delayed a year because of the virusโ€”will go ahead without spectators.

Tokyo has seen a rise in new cases in each of the last 25 days, with Wednesday's 1,149 cases the highest in six months, per Stephen Wade of the Associated Press. The issue comes with less than 20 percent of the Japanese population being vaccinated.

The adjustment to the medal ceremony was called a "very significant change" by Bach.

Athletes usually have medals placed around their necks by IOC members or officials within the sport while the national anthem of the gold medalist is played. There will be no contact this time around, with handshakes and hugs also eliminated.