Tokyo 2020 Agenda: Arrival in Japan


The air is hot, humid, sticky. Tokyo is ready for the first Olympics amid the COVID-19 pandemic with its usual sweltering summer climate. It is no coincidence that in 1964 it was organized in October, but at that time it was not the TV contracts that dictated the dates of the Games. (More sports news)

Massive team arrivals started last week. The weather is uncertain, thunderstorms are expected every day in the afternoon then the sun at 33 degrees, which will be perceived as 43 …


Fortunately for us, arriving at Haneda Airport, smaller and closer to the center than Narita, was much more complicated than in previous Olympic editions. Before disembarking, employees of the organization had asked to fill out a form on the plane, a quick but unexpected procedure.

This way, however, a traffic jam was avoided immediately. In a train station 200 meters away, the Japanese checked whether two applications had been downloaded. These help us to have information about health and organization and so that they know where we are at all times.

ID number

An identification number was then assigned for the next saliva test. After a long walk, the result was collected at gate 146. This process can take anywhere from two to four hours.

IN PICTURES: Athletes arrive for strict testing and monitoring

All reception staff are very nice, but most of them are government run and therefore very attentive to the details of health claims.

Those who do not fill out the forms accurately, which mainly relate to the tests required 96 and 72 hours before departure, risk not only long waits but also the possibility of being sent home.

Please note, the 72 hours from the second and last test that are strictly required must coincide with the departure time of the plane.

If it turns out that the test was done at 10:30 am and three days later the flight will take off at 11:20 am, then it has been over 72 hours and delicate issues could arise, as the required limits would be exceeded and this could invalidate the process. We must therefore pay close attention to this very important detail.

Quite effective

To avoid any direct contact with the population, the transport of all people connected to the Olympic Games is separated from public transport.

The teams are taken directly to the Games Village or to the headquarters where they have decided to finish their preparation.

Journalists and technicians are taken to the city’s main terminal and from there everyone receives a free voucher for a “safe” taxi to take them to the hotel.

Perfect coordination.


The Japanese percentage against Tokyo 2020 is still high. Two days ago, a demonstration in front of the hotel where Thomas Bach and other delegates of the International Olympic Committee were staying, attracted a few people.

Now they know that the organizational machine can no longer be stopped, but they are unable to accept that the Japanese government has tightened the heavy restrictions.

The locals smile at us, but they prefer not to talk about what they feel inside. They continue to be nice, even though they are adamant about the rules that we must follow. You can’t blame them because if they loosen their grip then it would be difficult to deal with the resulting discomfort. They are not used to improvisation and flexibility in interpreting COVID control rules.


Then, to rouse the spirits of skeptics, Hirotada Hirose, a well-known expert on “disaster risk”, also intervened, telling the French news agency that the organizers of the Games should have taken into consideration the devastating danger of earthquakes and typhoons, which are common in this region of the world located on the Ring of Fire.

It is clear that such a statement raises doubts even in the most steadfast optimist. But we must continue to think positively, because these Games must also be a new experience of how to deal with the pandemic without having to give up everything.

In Europe too, there will probably still be suffering after the UEFA European Championships, but unfortunately there is no turning back.

Everyone, even the deniers, must understand that it is necessary to follow new rules of life, which do not call into question the real rights of individual freedom.

(The author is a seasoned Italian journalist and president of the International Sports Press Association, AIPS)

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