Tokyo: an Olympic Games unlike any other with an Olympic Village at the height


The pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics will be unlike any other when they open on July 23. And they will have an idiosyncratic Olympic village to match.

Start with the aptly named “Fever Clinic,” a prefabricated complex of isolation rooms inside the sprawling Tokyo Bay Village. This is where PCR tests will be administered to athletes or personnel suspected of carrying COVID-19.

This is a place no one will want to visit, unlike the huge dining room or fitness center, or a special “casual dining” room that will serve famous Japanese dishes ranging from okonomiyaki (a tasty pancake) with teppanyaki rice balls (dishes cooked on an iron grill).

Athletes will be tested daily in the village, having been tested at least twice before leaving the house, and again upon arrival. Any testing abnormalities in the village could put athletes or staff in the hands of Dr Tetsuya Miyamoto, senior director of the organizing committee’s medical services department.

“If they are positive, they will be brought here,” said Dr Miyamoto, standing on a media tour Sunday in front of the metallic gray walls of the clinic.

“This person will have another round of tests, taking a sample of the nasal membrane. Then we will analyze the nasal membrane test and confirm whether this person is really infected or not. “

If this is the case, patients who are asymptomatic or with minor symptoms will be transferred to an “isolation hotel” outside the village. Seriously ill people will be transferred to hospital.

“We hope it won’t be so crowded,” said Dr Miyamoto. “Of course there will be a range in the number of people. This is an infectious disease that we are talking about. It has the possibility of spreading. So once that happens, the numbers could start to explode.”

The village is a massive collection of newly constructed apartment buildings on Tokyo Bay that are sold for occupancy after the Olympic and Paralympic Games have closed.

The village officially opens on July 13, just 10 days before the opening of the Olympic Games. Athletes will need to wear masks in the village – even if they are vaccinated – and be warned at all times by social distancing, hand washing and room ventilation signs.

The International Olympic Committee said more than 80% of the occupants of the village will be fully vaccinated. This contrasts with the Japanese population, where around 6-7% are fully vaccinated in a slow rollout that is now accelerating.

More than 14,000 deaths in Japan have been attributed to COVID-19, numbers good by global standards but not as good as those of other Asian neighbors.

The village consists of 21 residential towers ranging from 14 to 18 floors with a total of 3,600 rooms. They are equipped with 18,000 beds, famous with disposable cardboard frames and spartan furniture.

The size of the apartments ranges from 110 square meters (approximately 1,200 square feet) that can accommodate eight people, to smaller units. Officials said the teams will decide how many athletes will sleep in the rooms, possibly spreading them out where possible.

About 11,000 athletes are expected for the Olympics and 4,400 for the Paralympics, which will open on August 24. Arrivals will be staggered and athletes are encouraged to arrive as late as possible and leave almost as soon as they have finished their competition.

The two-story dining room will have plastic panels to separate diners. The previous Olympics have used self-service extensively, but food in Tokyo will only be managed by the cooks and waiters. Officials say diners can choose from around 700 options.

Athletes will be allowed to take their own soft drinks from a huge refrigerator. But officials say the metal handles will be covered with an “anti-virus film”.

The official cost of the Tokyo Olympics is $ 15.4 billion, but government audits suggest it is double. Everything but $ 6.7 billion is public money. The IOC contributes approximately $ 1.5 billion to the total cost.

The IOC pushed forward these Olympics, which were generally frowned upon in Japan, in part because it risked losing $ 3-4 billion in broadcast revenue if the games were canceled.

Those responsible for the Sunday tour reiterated the alcohol policy in the village.

Alcohol consumption will be prohibited in public areas of the village, including the park area. Takashi Kitajima, the village general manager, said athletes can only drink in their rooms.

“When you drink alcohol, you are asked to drink alone,” he said.

The organizers distribute 150,000 condoms in the village. But Kitajima said they were distributed primarily to “raise awareness about HIV and AIDS.”

“So the purpose of condom distribution is not (only) to be used in the village, but to ask athletes to cooperate in raising awareness of the problem by bringing condoms home to their country.”


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