Tokyo Olympics

Logistical Challenges Covering an Olympics in a Global Pandemic

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Days before the Opening Ceremony, positive COVID-19 cases in athletes has an even brighter spotlight on the Tokyo Olympics.

The world is set to watch the first, major event bringing thousands of athletes together since the pandemic began, but the event is not just proving challenging for the athletes, but also for the media covering those athletes.

We have found that patience and extra planning are necessary to get the job done here on the ground in Tokyo.

My photographer and I are under what is called a 14-day soft quarantine. That quarantine started the first full day we were in Tokyo, July 18. The soft quarantine means we are only allowed to leave our hotel for official Olympics business. Other than that, we can leave the hotel for a strict 15 minutes to get essentials from local convenience and grocery stores.

For the first three days in Tokyo, we were required to take a saliva PCR COVID-19 test and drop the samples into a box at the NBC media center.

In addition, we are required to track and record our health in a phone application monitored by the Japanese government. The app asks a series of questions every morning that we must answer, including do we have any cold-like symptoms, our temperature and if anyone we have been in close contact with has had any symptoms of COVID-19.

The media is not allowed to take public transit during this time. There are special buses and vans that take us to our workspaces and Olympic venues, but those trips could take more than an hour on a trip that would just take a few minutes in a car.

At the end of the 14-day, soft quarantine, our movements around the city will not be as restricted, but masks wearing, and social distancing will still be enforced. If a reporter wants to go inside an Olympic venue and interview the athletes, they must take a COVID test before they are allowed inside.

The Tokyo Olympics start on Friday, July 23 with the Opening Ceremony.

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