A huge, high-tech operation is now under way to ensure that the 600-strong ParalympicsGB delegation touches down in Tokyo next weekend free of COVID and that athletes have the best possible opportunity to compete without the fear of being ruled out on health grounds.
The ‘stop the virus’ logistics drive mirrors a similar and highly successful regime which ensured that Team GB landed in Japan COVID-free and that no athlete was then forced to withdraw in Tokyo because of infection or close contact with someone who had tested positive.
Despite fears that the virus could impact Team GB’s Olympic hopes, the rigorous testing programme put in place helped UK sporting stars to rack up 65 medals – their best-ever performance at an overseas Games bar the 67 medals won at Rio in 2016.
The COVID-19 testing programme is being masterminded by ParalmypicsGB with the support of Randox, which has the biggest COVID testing labs in the UK and Ireland, and amongst the biggest in Europe.
British competitors in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games will be tested regularly before they fly to Japan, with the last test just 72 hours before departure.
As with the Team GB Olympics operation, Randox is delivering test kits direct to athletes, either at their homes or training camps, and has set up its own courier services to ensure speed and reliability in processing the results.
ParalympicsGB will have visibility of a bespoke dashboard to register, view and access results reports for samples that will be taken by the ParalympicsGB Clinical Team and then transported to and tested in Randox’s COVID-19 laboratories, capable of processing 500,000 samples per day.
Whilst out in Tokyo from 24 August – 5 September the ParalympicsGB delegation of over 600 athletes, coaches and support staff will also have access to unique Randox point-of-care technology which offers rapid PCR tests results in as little as 40 minutes – an extra layer of safety that will provide the team with further reassurance that they are COVID-free while competing.
Randox Managing Director, Dr Peter FitzGerald, said;
“Following our testing regime for Team GB who enjoyed an incredibly successful Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, we are delighted we can extend our gold-standard PCR testing to the ParalympicsGB athletes ahead of their competing in the Paralympics.
“It is an honour to provide our COVID-19 testing service to ParalympicsGB, so the athletes can travel to Tokyo to achieve their dream of competing in the sport they have trained so hard for, and we can help to keep them safe along the way.”
Not only is Randox trusted by the British Olympic and Paralympic Associations to deliver reliable and timely testing but it is also recognised across the UK and Ireland for its efficient returns service, a unique and independent logistics operation consisting of a network of more than 120 custom-built dropboxes to which customers, and BPA Paralympians, can deposit their samples for next-day results.
One such Paralympian is Northern Irish swimmer Bethany Firth, a four-time Paralympic gold medallist who was Great Britain’s most successful Paralympian, with three golds and a silver medal, at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, and who will be using Randox Health’s COVID-19 testing service for safe travel to and from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Four-time Paralympic Gold Medallist Bethany Firth MBE said;
“The journey to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games has been an incredibly challenging one, as I had been previously recovering from an injury and taking a break from heavy training. When the time came to get back to Paralympic preparation the COVID pandemic hit and all of a sudden I no longer had the option to train in the way I have been since I began to swim.
“At various points throughout the last year I and my fellow Para Swimmers even wondered if we would make it out to Tokyo, spending our days during lockdown swimming in our paddling pools in our back gardens because we couldn’t access a pool.
“I am therefore so grateful to Randox Health for providing Paralympics GB with the COVID-19 testing we need to compete in Tokyo in a safe and COVID-free assured environment, and for enabling me to continue on to the next stage of my swimming and Paralympic journey.”
British Paralympic Association CEO Mike Sharrock said;
“The health and wellbeing of athletes is always the top priority for ParalympicsGB. To ensure we get our team to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games for this pinnacle moment in their sporting careers, we must first do all we can to prioritise their safety and wellbeing so that they can board the plane to Japan.
“By partnering with a testing supplier of Randox Health’s calibre we can be assured we have the highest quality COVID-19 testing available – giving the athletes the peace of mind they need to focus on their preparation, training and performance. We have every confidence ParalympicsGB athletes will produce performances to inspire and unite the nation once again.”
Randox, with almost 40 years of international diagnostics experience, has been at the forefront of COVID-19 testing since the outset of the pandemic. With proven testing capability and well-established logistics and customer support services, Randox are strongly placed to allow international travellers to travel with confidence.