Saturday, 19 June 2021

Under close supervision, Tokyo welcomes foreign divers to test event

REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO – Diving and volleyball on Saturday became the first Olympic test events to include international athletes since such competitions resumed last month, as both began under close supervision in Tokyo. 

The diving World Cup, also a qualifier for this summer’s Games, features more than 200 athletes from 50 countries including powerhouse China. “We’re not allowed out of our rooms, where you have to stay… – no outdoor air, no human interaction,” said U.S. women’s diver Sarah Bacon. “But we’ve been making it work.”

With around 15,000 Olympians and Paralympians expected to compete, organisers are grappling with how to hold the Games safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Japanese authorities are determined to protect not only Games participants, but a local population that opinion surveys have shown is largely opposed to the Olympics due to the virus.

Japan is battling a fourth wave of infections, and the government has declared states of emergency in Tokyo and other areas. During a warm-up before Saturday’s men’s preliminary event, the announcer scolded divers for gathering too closely, thus violating social distancing regulations, around the 3-meter springboard. 

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