The great olympic bubble

In the access area to the Olympic Village in Tokyo, a prefabricated building with wooden ceilings and columns, there are jars of gel and a device that measures temperature in real time by resting the wrist on a reader. The volunteers ask everyone who arrives to disinfect their hands before and after taking the temperature. The international area of ​​the Villa, which was normally the area that journalists could access and meet to chat with the athletes – in Rio there were sun loungers, beach volleyball courts and kilometer-long queues of athletes at the door of McDonald’s – funniest place.

The movement of people is constant. In Japan there is no trace of that; in the Pandemic Games it has become a tiny mixed zone with highly restricted access.

It is only accessed with reservation. And they can only reserve the media with rights that have previously arranged an interview with some of the 11,000 athletes from 205 countries who will reside there these two weeks. The latter, in addition, are obliged at these Games to leave the village within 48 hours after the end of their competition. Unlike other Olympic committees, which have given their athletes permission to conduct face-to-face interviews, because the IOC allows it – with a safety distance of two meters – the Spanish Olympic Committee has transmitted to its athletes that if they have to to some means it is better that they do it by phone.

Every morning the athletes undergo a saliva test. When they return from their training places, their temperature is taken. Javier Pérez Polo, who this Sunday competes in taekwondo in the -68 kg category, sums it up this way: “Just like you [los periodistas]They also make us fill a little jar with saliva … In the Villa you see people every day who hide around the corners to spit and fill it ”. Every time they enter the dining room they have to wash their hands in a sink and before taking the trays they have to put on gloves. “What has caught my attention the most is that in the dining room there are individual partitions that prevent communication with the colleague in front of you. To make yourself heard you have to scream. Can you imagine the screaming in there? It’s a bit sad because it’s the moment when you’re eating with your whole team and you hardly hear them ”, he adds.

The mask is mandatory in all places, except in the room. David Llorente, runner-up in the whitewater world, entered this Monday after spending two weeks in a hotel authorized by the international federation. They are his first Games and it is his first time in a Villa. “I see everyone very aware of the rules. I have not seen large crowds anywhere except in the dining room at rush hour and in the official store, where if you arrive in the afternoon there are very few products left and you have to wait for them to be replaced the next day ”, he says. Pérez Polo corroborates this: “It is very, very rare to find someone who does not wear a mask. In the dining room there are thousands of gel dispensers ”.

No meal shifts have been organized. There are two dining rooms and, according to David, when entering each block of buildings, a screen warns of the influx that is at that time in each place. “We Spaniards are in the same bloc as Turkey, Mexico, Cuba and Azerbaijan. When you enter you get: first dining room, 70% occupancy; second floor dining room, 30%; recreation room, 40% ”, he explains.

The recreation area, also known as the games room, has three tables for ping-pong, targets, Japanese-style targets, an artificial intelligence petanque and several playstations. “I have seen everyone with a mask, either playing ping-pong or playing tennis. If people look out and see that all the games are busy, they leave, there are no queues waiting, ”he says. His coach, Guillermo Diez-Canedo, can compare with the Rio2016 Olympic village, where he was responsible for the Brazilian slalom team. “The recreation room in Tokyo is much smaller than the one in Rio or Beijing [donde compitió en 2008] and I think it was done on purpose, to discourage people from going. Normally, it was a place where, if the games were busy, you would stand in line. Now if people see that, they go away ”.

He also explains that there are far fewer outdoor spaces than in Rio. “In Brazil there were green areas and small parks between each building block and another. Here there are two streets and nothing else. The dining room is also quite smaller [en Río era un espacio de 200 metros]”. The Villa blocks in Tokyo have apartments for 6-8 people. In the slalom team the athletes share a room. In the eight apartments there are four bedrooms, with two beds each, two bathrooms and a living room. The beds, according to the organization, are made of recyclable cardboard. “I have done the test, I have jumped on it three or four times and it has not broken,” says David.

Pérez Polo, for his part, says that there are security personnel but that he has not seen someone reprimand because everyone respects the rules. “One thing that I have noticed that they are super strict is in the schedules. If the bus that takes you to training is scheduled at 12.30; at 12.30 he is leaving ”, he says. The training sessions are divided into time slots so that there is no crowding of athletes in the halls. “In ours there are six tapestries and we usually have one for ourselves between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm; only once have we had to share it ”, he adds.

This Wednesday they were able to set foot in the Makuhari Messe – home of the taekwondo tests – but only to receive a talk about the protocols. “And they have insisted on us again with the times, they are very strict on that. We have been told that at the end of each test there will be two mixed zones: in the first we will be able to stop for 90 seconds; in the second, a little more, but not much more. They are very scrupulous about this and want us to avoid prolonged contacts, “he concludes.

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