The first Olympic team has officially arrived in Japan for the Tokyo Olympics — where they will spend the next seven weeks before the Games confined to their hotel. "We can't go outside and go for a walk, but that's OK," Chelsea Forkin, a member of Australia's early-arriving softball team, told The New York Times. "We understand the rules and want to be respectful."
In Japan, where just 3 percent of the population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, there is strong opposition to the Games. One local survey found that as many as 83 percent of residents don't want Tokyo to host the Olympics this summer after the country has weathered three times as many deaths in the first five months of the year as in all of 2020. As a result, Japan is taking enormous precautions to protect its population, like those being experienced by Australia's team during their Olympic camp:
There are daily PCR tests. The players are confined to three floors of their hotel in Ota City … and use one elevator separated from other guests. They eat in their own dining room. Only six people are allowed in the gym at a time, so the 23 athletes have a rotating schedule. They are not allowed to visit local bars, restaurants or shrines, but they can gather in a hotel meeting room outfitted with a Nintendo Switch. [The New York Times]
The Times adds that visiting teams must also "sign a form in which they promise not to make contact with the general public."
The Australian team believes the opportunity to compete at the highest level of athletics in the world makes the restrictions worth it. "These athletes ... are committed to not only look after themselves but do the right thing by the Japanese population as well, and be ready for the games," Ian Chesterman, the head of Australia's Olympic contingent, told The Tribune-Democrat. "And I think we're very comfortable with the protocols that have been put in place to manage not only this group of athletes but the Australian team when we get there."