Friday, August 6, 2021

Behind the scenes at the Tokyo Olympics: Safety and security measures

We are at the tail end of these Olympics and I am happy to say that it looks like we may have made it through all of this without creating a super-spreader event. They are taking Covid very seriously here, and I thought I would tell you how they have done this, and kept us safe as well.

At the entrance of every venue or building, the first thing we have to do is stop and sanitize our hands. There is a foot pedal so that we can dispense the hand sanitizer without having to touch anything. It is not just encouraged, it is required that we do this.

The next thing that happens is getting our temperature read. This is sometimes done with a handheld thermometer and other times with thermal imaging machines like this one (at the Main Press Center)

There is a small version at the water polo venue.

The next step is for us to walk up to these readers, where we actually have to remove our hats and masks and scan our faces, while holding our credentials up to the RFID reader.

Every area that we enter, regardless of whether it is a building, a tented venue, a sporting venue or the  media center, we have to go through security screening. The good news is that we do not have to open our camera bags during this inspection process.

I should also mention that the level of security here has been amazing. I know that Japan is a very safe place to be in general, but after dealing with the thefts and safety issues in Rio, this is a welcome change. There have been numerous times when I have left my camera bag unattended and my laptop on a desk while I walked away, and I never worry about it being taken. I do keep the Canon R3 packed away since Canon does not want other photographers to see it up close or play with it. 

Now...back to the logistics...

Hand sanitizers are EVERYWHERE here. At home, we are encouraged to use them periodically. Here, we are encouraged to use them all the time.

They are even decorating them for fun.

In many of the bathrooms, they have turned off the hand dryers and removed paper towels. So there is not a good way for us to dry our hands. As I learned as a child, my shirt works just fine! Weirdly enough though, there is no consistency with this, as I have walked into some bathrooms at venues and the hand dryers are turned on.

As I have mentioned numerous times before, we are all spitting into tubes on a daily basis. When we do this, we go to a special Olympic web page, log our credential numbers, birthdate, and the bar code in the bag. We then spit in the tube, affix the bar code and put these in a big bin for processing later.

We can log in and see our test results. We will also need these to depart from Tokyo and head home to our respective countries.

Social distancing is mostly enforced here, like you see here in the media room of the water polo venue, but not everywhere. I have been on crowded buses and at venues where photographers are all standing very close together. But when we are sitting and working (especially indoors) we are keeping our distance.

I guess that it goes without saying that we are all wearing masks. The only time that we are not masked is when we are eating or drinking. And I have to say that people have been very good about keeping the masks on their face and covering their mouth and nose.

I was taking a taxi home from the Sport Climbing venue last night and remembered to take a photo of the Air Purity monitor that is in every taxi cab. I am not sure if this was something they had prior to the pandemic, but I still find it intriguing that they monitor this.

I hope you found this interesting, and for those of you who I will see at home and overseas, rest assured that we are staying as safe as we can over here.


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