Olympics-The Story of Two Cities: The “Bubble” and Outside of Tokyo

In the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), a Chinese basketball player wearing a protective mask is driving outside the Olympic Village for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to be held in Tokyo on July 29, 2021. Carry your luggage to. REUTERS / Kim Kyung-hu

July 29, 2021

By Antoni Slodkowski and Kiyoshi Takenaka

Tokyo (Reuters) – The Tokyo Olympics operates a village for athletes and coaches, with more than 80% vaccinated against the coronavirus, mandatory testing, and severely restricted exercise.

None of this applies to the huge Japanese capital that surrounds the Olympic “bubble.”

The Olympic Village and Olympic Press Center represent a huge and rigorous COVID-19 control zone for more than 50,000 athletes, coaches, staff and journalists. On the other hand, outside the fence, the host city of Tokyo is living a pandemic-like life, despite struggling to block the fourth coronavirus as the number of infections surges to a record high. ..

Participants traveling to the Olympic Games will be tested for coronavirus before boarding the flight, upon arrival, and on a regular basis thereafter.

Organizers conducted approximately 275,000 tests, athletes were screened daily, and journalists were tested before the event and every four days at the press center.

According to International Olympic Committee spokesman Marc Adams, the positive rate for game-related tests is only 0.02%. “This is arguably the most tested community anywhere in the world.”

Athletes who are confirmed to be positive will be quarantined and some athletes will not be able to participate in the competition. American double-world champion pole vaulter Sam Kendricks and rival Argentina’s Hermann Chiaravirio were eliminated Thursday after being tested positive for COVID-19.

A Tokyo 2020 spokesman said Thursday that the two participants in the Games were hospitalized for COVID-19, but neither case was serious. Twenty-four new game-related infections, including three athletes, have been reported, bringing the total for this month to 193.

According to team technical director Maurits Hendriks, isolated Dutch athletes find it “extremely painful” to be confined to “very small” areas where fresh air is not available. ..

Journalists should report their temperature and condition daily and download the contact tracking app during the two-week quarantine.

At the main press center, Japan’s largest exhibition facility, reporters disinfect their hands before lining up for security checks. A mask is always required except during facial recognition scans and meals.

Rule violators are reprimanded, but occasionally maskless journalists are seen on the computer along a common table where the workspace is separated by plastic dividers.

Hand sanitizers are everywhere. At the press conference, officials rub the microphone after each question.

Outside, declining consciousness

Outside, the state of emergency Tokyo style is very similar to the clinical situation of the bubble and the blockade of ghost towns imposed on cities such as London, New York and Sydney, and many are still on the street. ..

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Thursday that he had a “strong sense of urgency” about COVID-19 as Tokyo hit a record high. He again urged people to stay home and watch games on TV with almost no spectators. Travel curbs and telecommuting recommendations remain the same.

Footfalls around Shinjuku Station in Tokyo, the busiest in the world, fell by more than 80% from the pre-pandemic baseline between the first state of emergency in April and May 2020, according to figures from private data firm Agoop. Metro government analysis shows.

However, as the blockade began to tired, these numbers are now down by only 37%, and many Tokyo citizens say the government’s enthusiasm to promote the Olympics makes people feel that they can tolerate going out. I am.

COVID-19 infections in Tokyo began to surge shortly before the start of the Olympics, rising from less than 1,000 daily in mid-July to a record 3,865 on Thursday, but serious cases and deaths remain under control.

Only 21% of people in Tokyo have been vaccinated. Coronavirus testing conducted has gradually risen to 2.9 million in 14 million cities.

During the busy rush hour in the trendy Shibuya area, college student Nae Konaka (19) said, “But I have to go out for work and part-time work,” and tried to avoid going out as much as possible. rice field.

Considering multiple blockades, “Everyone’s consciousness is gradually fading. I think that we are not taking emergency situations seriously, and recently the number of cases of COVID-19 is increasing. I am a little worried.”

While commuter trains typically only have standing seats, almost all passengers wear masks and refrain from speaking loudly. Meanwhile, the conductor opens several windows on each vehicle to facilitate air circulation.

After work, the bars are supposed to close at 8 pm, but some bars openly ignore most of the blockades and voluntary rules, and Japanese convenience stores are open all night. Is often.

One night this week, in the densely populated Ikebukuro district, young people found a place to sit outside for a makeshift gathering.

“At this point, I don’t think there’s much we can do to catch COVID. I don’t want to get it, but there are many people who can’t avoid it,” says Yuka Toma (19), a part-time job.

“I’m in the hospitality industry, so I have to get it every time I do that. Anyone can get it, so I’m just starting to hang out.”

(Report by Antonio Slodkowski and Kiyoshi Takenaka, additional report by Pak Yiu, Lucien Libert, Rikako Maruyama, Andrew Bibee, written by William Mallard, edited by Alison Williams)

Olympics-The Story of Two Cities: The “Bubble” and Outside of Tokyo

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