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A week before the opening of the Tokyo Olympics

Posted July. 17, 2021 08:00,   

Updated July. 17, 2021 08:00


There were two different atmospheres at the Main Press Center (MPC) for the Tokyo Olympics, where I visited first among many facilities for the Olympics after finishing my three-day self-isolation that began upon entering Japan on July 12. With a week left until the opening of the Olympics, the center was calm and quiet. But once the Olympics begin, it will be crowded with thousands of reporters. It almost looked like the calm before the storm as there could be a lot of confusion over COVID-19 guidelines and administrative support as the Games begin.

In order to get to the MPC located at Tokyo Big Sight, the biggest international exhibition center in Japan, one needs to take the bus provided by the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee at a bus stop near each hotel and get off at the Media Transport Mall in front of the International Broadcasting Center. From here, one needs to transfer to another bus again and travel about five to six minutes to get to the MPC. Reporters from countries around the world will have to travel together in a crowded bus.

Athletes and reporters entering Japan are currently subject to different COVID-19 guidelines depending on where they are from. Whether they are vaccinated or not does not matter. Athletes and reporters from Korea should have a three-day self-isolation, starting from the next day after entering the country, and take a PCR test every day. Athletes and reporters from countries with a higher number of COVID-19 variant cases are subject to stricter guidelines. In particular, those from Afghanistan, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Zambia, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Nepal should self-isolate for seven days before departure and for three more days after arrival, and take a PCR test every day for seven days after finishing their self-isolation.

At MPC, there is a Press Workroom for reporters and photographers. Once the Olympics begin, around 300 to 400 people are expected to be working there simultaneously. People from the Tokyo Olympics Organizing Committee and Olympic Committees from countries around the world are also expected to use the room. Under the circumstances, the only thing we can hope for is that no one is tested positive for COVID-19 after a PCR test, where you use a swab to collect your respiratory material, keep it airtight, and submit your sample.

I got out of breath while working at the MPC. So I lowered my mask, took a sip of water, and then quickly put my mask back, thinking this is the beginning of a dilemma.

Jae-Yeong Yoo elegant@donga.com