No shopping, no sightseeing for Tokyo-bound athletes, officials

Published February 14, 2021, 3:49 PM

by Waylon Galvez

In this file photo, A man walks along a corridor past an official Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics advertisement board in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo. (AFP)

The organizing committee of the Tokyo Olympics has come up with a “playbook” that will serve as a guideline for athletes, coaches, and officials from different countries before, during, and even after the Games in Japan this year.

In an online meeting last week, the representatives – or Chef de Mission – of each national team were provided with the said playbook, which comprises the different dos and don’ts, particularly on the health protocols in an effort to keep the Olympics safe from COVID-19.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach also attended the online meeting.

Nonong Araneta, the Chef de Mission of the national team in the Tokyo Olympics, said that this playbook has been given to various national sports associations with athletes who are either qualified or still trying to qualify to the Games set July 23 to August 8.

Nonong Araneta, the Chef de Mission of the national Team in the Tokyo Olympics (File photo)

“We gave the athletes and officials (the playbook) on what they should be done prior to the Olympics, upon arrival in Japan, during the Games, and after departure,” said Araneta, when he appeared on the sports show The Chasedown on One PH channel over CignalTV, last Saturday.

“It’s very strict. We’re not even allowed to go on public transport, only the designated transportations (for athletes and officials) only when we get to Japan. We’re not even allowed to shop, no sightseeing, social distance, hygiene.”

“Everything is on the playbook, all the protocols that we need to follow to protect the Games from any untoward incident,” added Araneta, who is also the president of the Philippine Football Federation.

The amiable sports official said that athletes, coaches, and officials will only be allowed to stay inside the Athletes Village five days after competing in their sport, then they are expected to fly back home.

That part of the guideline of not allowing athletes and officials to go outside is far from the normal occurrence during the sports meet as the host country usually banks on a boost in tourism to help them obtain a financial gain and recover the expenses it had to stage the event.

So far, there are four athletes from three NSAs that have earned Olympic berths, including boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno, gymnast Caloy Yulo, and EJ Obiena of pole vault in athletics.

Araneta, however, said that there are still 91 athletes from 20 NSAs that are still looking to earn spots in the Tokyo Olympics, including Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz in weightlifting, skateboarder Margielyn Didal, as well as pro golfers Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan.

Araneta said that while it is best to get a vaccine against COVID-19 prior to the Olympics, he said that it is not mandatory.

“It is advised by the IOC that athletes (and officials) get vaccinated. But it’s not mandatory,” said Araneta, adding that the vaccination program may begin in May as sports patrons Senator Bong Go and Congressman Mikee Romero have asked for the government to support the Olympic-bound athletes.

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