Today show host Savannah Guthrie has offered a peek inside the Tokyo Olympics ahead of the opening ceremony on Friday, revealing some of the ‘very strict’ COVID-19 protocols in place to keep the athletes and press healthy.
The Olympics committee is certainly playing it safe as thousands of international visitors pour in for the event, and Savannah, 49, opened up about the frequent testing, firm rules, and rigid lockdown in place.
‘They have very strict protocols here. In a way it’s like stepping back in time,’ she told her co-hosts this morning.
‘At least for those of us in our country [the United States], at the height of the pandemic, we remember the washing of the hands, the mask-wearing, all of that. It’s just like that here. It’s really locked down here in Tokyo.’
Today show host Savannah Guthrie has offered a peek inside the Tokyo Olympics ahead of the opening ceremony on Friday
‘They have very strict protocols here. In a way it’s like stepping back in time,’ she told her co-hosts this morning
She had to be tested twice prior to departure, 96 hours and 72 hours before the trip — and again at the airport, where she spent hours in immigration
She also had to test daily for the first three days and submit status to a health app
Another app tells her whether she has been exposed to someone who had tested positive
Savannah arrived in Tokyo on July 17 after over 21 hours of travel from New York City — and three COVID-19 tests.
‘Before you even come you have to take two tests, about 96 hours and 72 hours before you go,’ she explained.
After traveling around the world — including a 1.5 hour commute to the airport, a 14 hour flight, and 2.5 hours at customs and immigration — she got another test.
‘You land, you’re tested again at the airport,’ she said.
The tests continue on the ground in Tokyo, since anyone could catch the virus at any time.
‘Then you have to test the first three days — every single day you have to submit a test, you have to submit your health status on an app,’ she went on.
She has been in Japan for several days — and has a great view from her balcony, where she filmed her segment
But she admitted that she hasn’t actually been able to see any of the city
‘The biggest part about the quarantine: You can’t leave the hotel. You can go to your workspace or you can go to the hotel,’ she said
‘You can walk outside, 15 minutes a day, that is it,’ she said, revealing that colleague Natalie Morales started a walking club in the hotel
‘And then there’s another app, it’s a tracking app. It’ll tell you whether or not you’ve been exposed to anybody in your vicinity who has COVID, and it’s also watching you. You have to install it to enter the country, so it’s super strict and very locked down,’ she said.
But while she has been in Japan for several days — and has a great view from her balcony, where she filmed her segment — she admitted that she hasn’t actually been able to see any of the city.
‘The biggest part about the quarantine: You can’t leave the hotel. You can go to your workspace or you can go to the hotel. You can walk outside, 15 minutes a day, that is it,’ she said, revealing that colleague Natalie Morales started a walking club in the hotel.
But she did share that the city is ‘so immaculate, the stadium [and] the venues are gorgeous.’
‘You do get that feeling that Tokyo threw a party and everyone’s all dressed up,’ she said.
Athletes appear to have a bit more room to move around so far than the press, with some competitors sharing snaps since their arrival in Tokyo
Members of Team USA’s women’s gymnastics team including Simone Biles, Jordan Chiles, Sunisa Lee, and MyKayla Skinner have shared snaps around the Olympic Village
Athletes appear to have a bit more room to move around so far than the press, with some competitors sharing snaps since their arrival in Tokyo.
Members of Team USA’s women’s gymnastics team including Simone Biles, Jordan Chiles, Sunisa Lee, and MyKayla Skinner have shared snaps around the Olympic Village — wearing masks, of course — as well as on the mat at practice.
US Softball’s Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott have also shared shots with their teammates, as has surfer Carissa Moore.
But while everyone appears to be following the rules and safety protocols, there have been some unfortunate developments.
Several athletes have tested positive for the virus, including Czech beach volleyball player Ondřej Perušič, South African soccer players Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi, and US gymnast alternate Kara Eaker.
In fact, Olympics committee chief Toshiro Muto said Tuesday that it is still possible the games could be canceled at the last minute.
US Softball’s Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott have also shared shots with their teammates
The athletes have masks, though have pulled them down to eat and drink
Surfer Carissa Moore also shared a shot of her team in Tokyo being greeted by locals
‘We can’t predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases,’ Muto said. ‘So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases. We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again.
‘At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises.’
It comes as the number of cases linked to the Games rose to 71 with infections in Athletes’ Village, and three more sponsors announced they will not be sending representatives to the Opening Ceremony due to anger at the event going ahead.
At least one of those cases — a member of the Ugandan weightlifting team — is the highly-infectious Delta variant, and Japan has also warned about the variant’s spread among the general population.
A spokesman for Tokyo 2020 later said organizers were ‘concentrating 100% on delivering successful Games.’
COVID-19 cases are rising in Tokyo rising and the Games, postponed last year because of the pandemic, will be held without spectators.
Toshiro Muto, head of the Tokyo organizing committee, was asked at a press conference whether the Games could still be called off and said meetings will take place later this week
Japan is seeing a spike amid rapid spread of the Delta variant, with at least one confirmed case among the 71 COVID-19 cases linked to the Olympics so far
Japan this month decided that participants would compete in empty venues to minimize the risk of further infections.
Speaking at a closed-door meeting of the International Olympics Committee in Tokyo on Tuesday, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga acknowledged that there are ‘great difficulties’ facing the world and the Games but said he is determined for the event to be a ‘success.’
‘Such fact has to be communicated from Japan to the rest of the world,’ Suga said through an interpreter. ‘We will protect the health and security of the Japanese public.’
He acknowledged Japan’s path through the pandemic toward the Olympics had gone ‘sometimes backward at times.’
‘But vaccination has started and after a long tunnel an exit is now in our sight,’ Suga said.
In Mexico, two members of the country’s baseball team tested positive before their departure, the country’s baseball federation said on Tuesday.
The athletes, Hector Velazquez and Sammy Solis, who tested positive on July 18, have been isolated, as have all team members pending results of more tests, it said.