The Tokyo Olympic journey for athletes who have earned a spot on their country's team has been harder than ever before considering the global pandemic the world is still dealing with.
For our NBC 5 crew, the job of preparing and getting to Tokyo was harder than ever before.
My photographer, Juan Rodriguez, and I were required to take two negative COVID-19 tests, signed off on by a doctor, before we could go to DFW Airport. The first test was taken 96 hours before takeoff and the second was 72 hours before takeoff to Japan.
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Once the negative tests were signed, we were sent PDF forms that we had to present to the gate agent at the airport. Those forms, plus our passports and other documentation required by the Japanese government were presented on Friday morning before we could go through the TSA checkpoint line at the airport.
Once those documents were cleared, we went through international security at DFW Airport.
After that, we had to again show all the important documents required by the Japanese government to the gate agent before we could board the flight.
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The more than 6,400-mile flight to Japan was a little less than 13 hours.
Once we landed at Narita International Airport in Japan, we deplaned and were asked to wait before we could enter the airport. The airport, which is generally bustling with people, was almost a ghost town. One of the airport attendants told us the airport has been partially shut down during the COVID emergency the country has been experiencing.
My photographer and I were then taken to another counter where we had to present our passport, customs forms, a cell phone app that was required by the Japanese government which shows our health status and proof of the negative COVID tests we took back in DFW.
From there, we were ushered into another room where we took a saliva COVID test.
Then, we were sent to another counter where they again checked our immigration paperwork and proof of negative COVID tests before we took earlier in the week.
We were then required to sit in designated seats until the results of our COVID test in the Japan airport came back negative. Once that happened, we were given our media credentials for the Tokyo Olympics, which act as our work visas to be in the country.
We were then taken through another counter where they checked our health screening paperwork once again and sent us to the customs counter where our passports were stamped, and our fingerprints were taken.
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From there, we could pick up our luggage from baggage claim and were required to go through one more checkpoint to prove we had permission to be in the country for the duration of the Olympics.
After we got through that last checkpoint, we waited about 20 minutes for special vans that were taking the NBC affiliate employees to the hotels. We are not allowed to take public transit during our first 14 days in Japan. We are under a soft quarantine, so we must have our own drivers and our own vans to ensure we all stay away from the general public.
Our journey from start to finish took a little more than 25 hours, but worth every minute so we can tell the stories of the North Texas athletes who have worked so hard and waited so long to showcase their talents.
The Tokyo Olympics start on Friday, July 23 with the Opening Ceremony.