Every four years, countries around the globe assemble in the biggest celebration of sporting events, the Olympics. The Olympics offer undiluted enchantment that holds the world spellbound. Amid a pandemic athletes and spectators have had an experience unlike any other at these last two Olympics.
Host countries took various countermeasures to ensure the safety of athletes. During the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, athletes were tested using nucleic acid tests (NATs) daily. Testing with NATs is an essential strategy to detect virus carriers in a timely manner and control COVID-19. Yet there are no standardized policies or measures, and the cost-effectiveness of large-scale high-frequency NAT has not been examined.
A cost-effectiveness model of different surveillance scenarios was designed based on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, the Beijing 2022 Olympics, and the Paralympic Winter Games. Among the 18 surveillance scenarios, NATs daily for competition-related personnel and additional NATs daily for national sports delegations accepting quarantined infections were most cost-effective.
This finding helps determine a NAT frequency approach for large-scale sports events and disseminates a way to predict epidemic transmission. This prewarning surveillance approach can help host countries detect virus carriers and prevent the spread of the pandemic.