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SportOther SportsCovid scare: Journalists face strict restrictions in Tokyo

Covid scare: Journalists face strict restrictions in Tokyo

Published: 19th Jul 2021 7:50 pm

Tokyo: Hundreds of journalists have descended on Tokyo for the much-anticipated Olympic Games that begin on Friday in Japan after a year’s delay. But for at least the first 14 days of their stay they will have to follow stringent Covid-19 restrictions that limit their movement to their hotels and the Olympic venues. There is also a long list of requirements they must follow including daily testing and phone location sharing.

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Added to this, the prohibition of fans at competitions has dampened the normally festive atmosphere and limited the stories that media are able to report on. As a results, many are turning their cameras to themselves as they struggle to show what is beyond the Olympic facilities.

There has already been consistent opposition from the Japanese public to holding the Olympics during the pandemic, with fears that it could become a super-spreader event and cause a spike in infections among Japanese people. Tokyo reported 1,008 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, the 29th straight day that cases were higher than seven days previously. It was also the fifth straight day with more than 1,000 cases.

The Olympics will open under a state of emergency in Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures. At the main press center the mood is still and silent, contrasting with the normally bustling media corps that follow the Olympics.

Interactions are for the most part prohibited though journalists take advantage of the much missed in person press conferences to catch up with colleagues they haven’t seen in a long time.

“It is kind of very sad because it is very quiet compared to the Rio (2016 Olympic Games),” said Japanese Olympic reporter Nozomi Kunitake with the NHK who covered the previous summer Games in the Latin American country known for its vibrant carnival and music.

But in Japan, many of Kunitake’s foreign peers are for now barred from visiting the city until their “soft” quarantine period ends.

“It is the most restrictive Olympic Games I’ve ever seen. We are working at the Main Press Center here but apart from that we can’t go anywhere else,” said Daniel Sutton, an Australian journalist with Network 10.

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