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The odyssey of counting the Olympic Games

07/20/2021 at 12:41 PM CEST

Manoj Daswani

In order for the reader to find these lines written in the international terminal of the gigantic Haneda airport, 33 kilometers from the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, the journalist who signs them has had to go through the same odyssey as the rest of the special envoys of the international press. Namely: temperature recording every day and for 15 consecutive times through a platform called Icon, geolocation of the mobile phone weeks before entering Japanese territory, filling in endless data to sometimes astonishing questions (do you intend to enter the country with several gold bars?) and the most expensive thing, getting first the organization of the Games and then a Japanese ministry to authorize the plan of activities described to the millimeter and in detail.

So it’s been weeks since the special envoys have had to decide whether on Saturday we are going to wait at the finish line for the metallic dream of Alejandro Valverde; or if we are going to be in judo, taekwondo or the shooting pit. Also if we are going to fly to Sapporo to see Pedri, for which in some cases a letter signed by the FIFA and the COI so that some teammates can get where the Spanish team already is.

Many of the newly landed journalists have been sleepless nights, responding to emails from the organization sent at three in the morning – they work only in Japanese time – and getting fed up with calling, you don’t know how many phones. Some of us even contacted the Embassy, ​​by the way absolutely effective, to finally find the safe-conduct to access Tokyo. And after so much waiting, so much filling in forms and doing PCR (two before flying, the last one less than 72 hours before arriving at destination and also with the Japanese translation of the final result), it tastes almost like a gold medal when right at the moment before boarding the penultimate plane on the route to the Country of the Rising Sun, one receives the final e-mail. “Your business plan has been approved.”

The less fortunate have been forced to face three days of forced quarantine in the hotel room. And of course those who do not complete the route because they are denied boarding in the transit city (for example in Frankfurt). But there are more problems and entanglements: picking up some test tubes to make yourself saliva tests that must be sent in a timely manner so that they can be analyzed; sign up for a seat reservation app so you don’t run out of seats in tennis, football or badminton; and of course refrain from using public transport or walking anywhere. For those who would like to come to Tokyo for a walk, let them forget so daring audacity. And even if any journalist were unlucky enough to be denounced by a Japanese citizen who saw him doing something other than working, they say he runs the serious risk of being deported. It’s all under control. If not, the mobile warns. Goodbye, individual liberties. Hello, Tokyo 2020.

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