2021 Tokyo Olympics: Medal ceremonies are undergoing a ‘very significant change’

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The 2021 Tokyo Olympics are going to look a lot different than normal because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, there won’t be any fans in attendance at the Games, but viewers will notice a “very significant change” to another long-standing tradition as well.

Athletes will no longer receive their medals by having them placed around their necks. Instead, they will be presented on a tray to help reduce the potential spread of COVID-19, as International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach confirmed Wednesday.

“The medals will not be given around the neck,” Bach told international media, per ESPN. “They will be presented to the athlete on a tray, and then the athlete will take the medal him or herself.

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“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.”

MORE: Dates, times, full TV schedule for 2021 Olympic Games

The precautions won’t stop there. Bach also confirmed that there won’t be contact among athletes during the medal ceremony.

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“There will be no shake-hands and there will be no hugs there during the ceremony,” Bach said.

This is no surprise considering the state of affairs in Tokyo. The country is in a state of emergency ahead of the Olympics, which begin Friday, July 23.

Despite this, the IOC isn’t entertaining a last-minute postponement or cancellation of the Games. The show will go on, but it will look different than any other Olympic Games before because of the strict COVID protocols in place.

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