Tokyo Tour Diary: Sport24 lands in Japan for Covid hit games … finally

A sign with Covid-19 countermeasures ahead of Tokyo 2020

Matthias Hangst / Getty Images

It is the dream of a lifetime to attend the Olympics and when I was given the opportunity, I never hesitated.

The coronavirus pandemic, however, has made planning for this year’s Games difficult.

Before arriving in Japan, all media and participants had to undergo two Covid-19 PCR tests (96 hours and 72 hours before departure). We also had to complete an “Activity Plan” predicting the events we would attend in and around Tokyo.

The business plan was drawn up a month before the Games, which limits the media to only frequenting the venues for which they requested.

Three flights and nearly two full days of travel from Cape Town to Johannesburg to Doha and then to Narita International Airport in Tokyo later, I arrived at the world’s greatest sporting spectacle.

There were other documents on the flight to Tokyo and on arrival – at 6:55 pm – I had lost count of the documents and envelopes.

There were complications with some of my papers which meant it took me longer to get out of the airport, but the volunteers and airport staff were helpful, guiding me through of eight The Covid-19 protocol stops.

There was a language barrier, but things went pretty well.

There was a saliva antigen test, disgusting as it sounds, and a wait for the results before finally going through customs and passport control – well, leaving the airport at 11:30 p.m.

Even at this time of day, volunteers were waiting and guiding each participant to each checkpoint.

I had a brief conversation with a volunteer. Despite her work at midnight, she told me that she was grateful to meet new people.

All media and broadcasters took a bus to the MPC (Main Press Center) in Koto town, then took taxis to their hotels.

I finally checked in at 1:00 am. It took me almost five hours to get out of the airport, and at one point I passed the time with a nice 10 minute conversation on the Friends TV show with a member of staff.


Organizers are asking those who arrive to self-quarantine for three days.

At the airport, everyone – even the athletes – had to download a contact tracing app, which allows the government to track us via GPS. During our first 14 days after entering Japan, we are not allowed to be tourists: not to walk or eat in restaurants.

So although I am now in Tokyo, I have yet to visit any sites or even take any iconic photos of Olympic rings or banners in the city.

There are countless logins and websites that require signups and logins. There is the Covid-19 tests, which will be done every four days for the media, whether or not you are vaccinated.

Strict rules are in place for everyone involved, including the more than 15,000 athletes in the Olympic Village.

Athletes are tested daily and are not allowed to cheer on teammates in other events. They also have 48 hours to leave Tokyo after their event is over, or when they are eliminated.

Tokyo runs a tight ship, but no matter how successful the centerpiece is, it will forever be known as the Covid Games.

* Lynn Butler is in Tokyo to cover the Sport24 Olympic Games.

About Walter J. Leslie

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