Thursday, May 13, 2021

Tokyo Olympics or no Tokyo Olympics - that is the question!

We are about 10 weeks out from the start of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and the question I keep getting from everyone is "Will the Tokyo Olympics happen or not?"

And just like everything that we have been dealing with over the last 16 months, there is nothing that is 100% certain during these times. For the last month, I have received countless email messages from the Tokyo Organizing Committee signaling that everything is a "go". There have been messages regarding housing, entry protocol, Covid testing, social restrictions and more. Covid cases have been pretty low in the country, but just the other day, the president of the IOC cancelled his trip to Japan due to a surge in Covid 19 cases. I also read that only 2% of the Japanese population has been vaccinated. I hope that this changes quickly so that the Games can go on. 

Last week the IOC released the second version of the media playbook which gives us more details of what we are likely to be dealing with if everything goes as planned. And as I see it, all of these new Covid restrictions are going to make an already challenging month even tougher. But would I opt out? Heck no!

I think that the most challenging aspects of the new guidelines are:

* We are either going to be required to use press buses only, or highly encouraged to do so. This could restrict my movement from one venue to another.

* Access to venues may be restricted, and so my normal freedom to move from one sport to another may be limited.

* Due to physical distancing between photographers at the venues, there will be a significant reduction in capacities for us, so it may be difficult to photograph the most popular events. 

* I will likely have to create a 14 day activity plan in advance of the Olympics and make reservations to be in certain venues. This is very difficult since I don't always know how much time I will have day-to-day. It has not been uncommon at past Olympics to squeeze in some unplanned shooting when I finished a contractual shoot early. And sometimes the opposite happened, when I planned on shooting a certain sport only to realize that I didn't have time to fit that in the schedule. 

* Shooting with a mask on is not only uncomfortable,  I find that it fogs up my eye-piece.

Along with periodic Covid testing, anyone going to the Olympics will be required to have a smart phone with them, with a special app called COCOA (which stands for Contact Confirming Application). This will help the officials know our whereabout for contact tracing purposes. 

I have been fully vaccinated and feel confident that I could go to the Olympics, do my job and it would be safe for myself and the people of Japan. Now it is another waiting game to determine if this really happens or not. Stay tuned!

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Chandra P said...

fingers crossed!!

Unknown said...

Sure hope we get to watch the games through your lens Jeff...and I'm proud of your courage to travel without fear. Go USA!!!

Dwayne Rhodes said...

Hope things are better at that time