Strict virus measures for Tokyo gymnastics trial run

Strict virus measures for Tokyo gymnastics trial run

TOKYO • At an upscale hotel in Tokyo, gymnasts from the United States, Russia, China and Japan are getting a taste of what more than 11,000 athletes might experience when the city hosts the postponed Olympic Games next year.

They are preparing for today’s meet, which will be the first international event held at an Olympic venue since the Covid-19 pandemic forced the Games’ postponement.

The one-off event is seen as a trial run for how international athletes may travel to and stay in Japan safely during the Games.

The 30 gymnasts are staying at the same hotel but on separate floors and have different training times to avoid contact.

“Before breakfast, we take a Covid test and they also gave us cell phones that alert us if someone has Covid (in the group),” eMjae Frazier, 16, who had previously never travelled outside of the United States, told Reuters from her hotel room.

“They are being very safe and cautious but it is not like we are in prison.”

Team members are chaperoned from the team bus to their rooms and to the dining room for meals.

“The US team is only allowed to be in the elevators (with the) US team,” said Yul Moldauer. “We can’t be in there with China, Russia or Japan.

“We are on the 14th floor and we aren’t allowed beyond, only going down for food when it is lunch, breakfast or dinner time.”

Moldauer, 23, who won the bronze at the 2017 World Championships, said he was not bored being stuck in his room and was enjoying looking at the view of Tokyo Tower from his window.

Gymnasts all brought their own equipment, including chalk, which was shared formerly.

As well as daily Covid-19 tests, competitors and team officials must pass through temperature checks and anti-bacterial sprays when arriving at the meet venue.

Additionally, anybody entering – including up to 2,000 spectators – is sprayed with a disinfectant mist.

Japan’s three-time Olympic gold medallist Kohei Uchimura said yesterday the meet could well be a “model” for the Games next year if all goes well.

“For the sake of the Olympics, I think this competition must be successful no matter what,” he said.

“I think we can make it become a model for good Olympics by reporting neither infected patients nor injuries.”

The 31-year-old tested positive for Covid-19 last week, but several subsequent follow-up tests were negative and he has been cleared to take part in today’s event.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE