Table 1

Comparisons between public health policies implemented in Japan (OG and PG 2020, held in 2021) and expected public health policies in FIFA WC Qatar 2022

Key parametersJapan OG/PG 2020FIFA WC Qatar 2022
Participants117 k in total (visitors)
Except for a few thousand at outlying locations outside of Tokyo, no fans were allowed throughout the OG.
Some PG sites allowed a few thousand schoolchildren to attend.
1.7 million nearly (visitors) anticipated=58.6% of the entire Qatar population
Competition has been divided into eight playing locations.
Stadiums average venue capacity: 47 500 seats
The most distant venues are only 55 km apart.
Countries’ demography (as per November 2021 statistics)Population of Japan: 125.8 million
Japan population density: 347 hab/km2
Tokyo (capital) population density: 6158 hab/km2
Population of Qatar: 2.9 million
Qatar population density: 185 hab/km2
Doha (capital) population density: 6.037 hab/km2
Countries’ surface area (km²)377 97511 571
Local vaccine coverage at the beginning of the OG (23 July 2021)25% fully vaccinated (two doses)49% fully vaccinated (two doses)
Local vaccine coverage up to date of manuscript submission (November 2021)76.0% fully vaccinated (two doses)85.1% fully vaccinated (two doses)
Previous experience in holding big events during the COVID-19 pandemicNo
  • 2020 Amir Football Cup: hosted 20 k at the peak of the pandemic (December 2020).

  • 2020 AFC (December 2020): 77 matches were successfully held throughout the event with some fans reported.

No vaccines were available during the period of the aforementioned two events.
Before the aforementioned two events, social distance, temperature screening and mask-wearing were required before admission.
The antigen test and monitoring findings were recorded using a geolocating cell phone app and an online booking system. While this was a pricey experiment for both organisers and viewers (the spectator was responsible for any required tests), these events mitigated the danger of COVID-19.
  • 2021 FIFA Arab Football Cup (November 2021): considered as a test for the FIFA WC-2022.

For this event, less rigorous infection control policies were implemented, allowing fans to remove their masks inside the stadium as most of the fans were vaccinated.
A mandatory negative rapid antigen test or up-to-date vaccination was required to get into the stadium. Those data were recorded in a geolocating cell phone app called ‘Ehteraz’.
Duration of the whole event29 days in total: 17 days for the OG and 12 for the PG28 days
Number of sporting disciplines49 in OG and 23 in PG1
Eligible guests to participate in the event70%–80% of the media representatives, as well as 85% of the residents at the Olympic Village had to be vaccinated.Not divulged by the local authorities yet
For the AFC 2020 and for the FIFA Arab Football Cup 2021: a quarantine of 1 week was required for any unvaccinated incomer to Doha.
Time to prepare for the eventThere was much hesitancy regarding the likelihood of the Tokyo OG to happen
Despite long-term preparation (16 July 2011, Japan was announced as host of the 2020 Summer OG, 9 years in advance), the final decision was made just a year before to postpone from 2020 to 2021.
2 December 2010: Qatar was announced to host the FIFA WC 2022 (12 years in advance).
Qatar has been studying infection control policies to deal with mass event organisation since COVID-19 was announced as a pandemic (will be ~3 years prior to the FIFA WC 2022 start date).
Healthcare systems during the eventGood preparedness and no casualties have been reported especially as Japan succeeded to decrease the number of positive cases per million population from 183 corresponding to the number of positive cases at the closing ceremony of the PG (5 September 2021) to 1.18 (November 2021) after the surge of positive cases during the OG.Qatar provides public health services mainly through the Primary Healthcare Corporation. The latter manages 28 health centres and is planning to adopt the FIFA WC mass-casualty incident plan in addition to other healthcare institutions such as Hamad Medical Corporation. The latter will be prepared for mass casualties and COVID-19 emergencies as needed.
Infection control before boarding to the organiser countryTwo negative RT-PCR test results in the 96 hours leading up to arrival in JapanNot divulged by the local authorities yet
A similar approach to Tokyo’s policy has been implemented at the AFC 2020 and FIFA Arab Football Cup 2021.
Infection control on arrivalOlympic guests were administered a rapid antigen saliva test on arrival while being required to remain at the airport until the test result was negative.Not divulged by the local authorities yet
A similar approach to Tokyo’s policy has been implemented in AFC 2020 and in Arab Football Cup 2021.
Tracking travellersAll guests had to instal location-based contact tracing apps on their phones and restrict their movements within the country to ‘designated bubbles’.Location-based contact tracing apps have been implemented in Qatar since the beginning of the pandemic and will be maintained for the FIFA WC2022.
 Daily infection control policiesPeople in the designated areas were subjected to two coronavirus rapid antigen tests a day.
People were required to always wear face masks, except when sleeping, eating or competing.
Not divulged by the local authorities yet
Winning ceremony infection controlMany winning ceremonies for the OG and PG (over 200)
Athletes who won gold, silver or bronze medals were forced to place their medals around their necks on the podium.
Athletes who were done competing had to depart the country within 2 days of their final event
Only one winning ceremony at the final day
Security and tracking guest activitiesTokyo hotels were instructed to keep track of their guests’ activities.
It has been reported that hotel personnel were subsequently frustrated by their involvement in maintaining the bubble around Olympic delegations.
Qatar has a dedicated police team for ‘stadium security’, which has been specifically trained over more than 4 years for this event.
Tracking of guests’ activities is expected to be considered if needed.
Travelling back to own country, ‘infection control’RT-PCR negative test was required before boarding and going back to guests’ respective countries to ensure that athletes and their supporting staff do not unintentionally bring a variation home.Not divulged by the local authorities yet
A similar approach to Tokyo’s policy has been implemented in the AFC 2020 and in FIFA Arab Football Cup 2021.
  • AFC, Asian Football Cup; OG, Olympic Games; PG, Paralympic Games; RT-PCR, reverse transcription PCR; WC, World Cup.