Thursday, June 3, 2021

Even more questions about the Summer Olympics in Tokyo

We are now only 50 days away from Opening Ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and the uncertainty continues. Just like many of you, I am reading numerous news reports saying that the Olympics will be cancelled, but at the same time I am now getting multiple emails per day from Tokyo confirming that everything is a go. 

At this point, until I get on a plane and head to Tokyo with my credentials in hand, I will not be 100% certain of anything. But, with so little time remaining, I can not imagine that the IOC would pull the plug on the Games. Putting on the Olympics is a monumental task with tens of thousands of people involved. And athletes all over the world are training and competing to have their one shot at making their mark in the sports world. Being so late in the game, it seems almost impossible to stop it.

This morning, there is news that 10,000 Olympic volunteers have chosen to opt out of their jobs due to Covid concerns. Sure, there are more than 80,000 volunteers signed up, but this is still a significant number. We rely on those volunteers for so much throughout the 3 weeks that we are in their country.

I am tracking the vaccination and Covid rates in Japan on a daily basis, and the good news is that the country is trending in the right direction. The big questions are: How many more Japanese people will be vaccinated in 50 days? Are they going to concentrate the vaccinations to the Tokyo area and the people directly involved with the Olympics? And will the Japanese people feel more comfortable having us in their country at that time?

I have been to Japan before and have always found the people to be friendly, helpful and very respectful. But I still wonder how I will be received when I am there to cover the Olympic Games, and obviously someone who is not from Japan.

I recently heard from my friends at Canon USA that they will not be sending any of their people to the Olympics this year. This was sad to hear on many levels. These people are friends of mine whom I was looking forward to seeing over there, and they are incredibly helpful to me during the stressful days. I have no doubt that the Canon Japan people will take care of me as well, but it just isn't the same as having a friendly and familiar face behind the counter. If you are wondering why Canon USA is not sending anyone to Japan, the reason is that those people would be required to quarantine in a small hotel room for 14 days. And when they say quarantine, they mean no leaving the room for any reason, not even to walk down the hallway. Canon would have to have a separate staff of people to bring food to those employees at their door. I know for a fact that I could not hole up in a tiny room for 2 weeks without going stir crazy. This is a lot to ask of anyone.

Even NBC is scaling back how many people they are sending to the Games. Pierre McGuire (Sports Analyst and commentator for NBC) and I have worked many Olympics together. I was watching the NHL playoffs the other day and he was doing the broadcasting. I texted him and asked him if he is going to Tokyo, assuming that he would be there. To my surprise (and his), NBC is not sending him to cover Water Polo, instead choosing to do the commentating from Connecticut. Another friendly face I will not see in Tokyo.

Well...I guess I will sign off for now and reply to all the emails from the Tokyo Organizing Committee regarding transportation, housing, and activity plans. Stay tuned!

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