Today show host Savannah Guthrie gave an inside look at the Tokyo Olympics ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony, revealing some of the “very strict” COVID-19 protocols to keep athletes and the press sane.
The Olympic 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 closure.
“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 washing hands, wearing masks, all that. It’s the same here. It’s really locked up here in Tokyo.’
Presenter Savannah Guthrie gave an inside look at the Tokyo Olympics ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony today
“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 before departure, 96 hours and 72 hours before the trip – and again at the airport, where she spent hours at immigration
She also had to test daily for the first three days and submit the status to a health app
Another app tells her if she’s been exposed to someone who tested positive
Savannah arrived in Tokyo on July 17 after more than 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 a trip around the world – including 1.5 hours commuting to the airport, 14 hours flying and 2.5 hours at customs and immigration – she was given another test.
“You land, you will be tested again at the airport,” she said.
Tests will continue on the ground in Tokyo, as anyone can contract the virus at any time.
“Then you have to test for the first three days – every day you have to hand in a test, you have to submit your health status on an app,” she continued.
She’s been in Japan for several days – and has a great view from her balcony, where she filmed her segment
But she admitted that she actually couldn’t see anything of the city
“Most of 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 out 15 minutes a day, that’s it,” she said, revealing that colleague Natalie Morales started a walking club at the hotel.
“And then there’s another app, a tracking app. It will tell you whether or not you have been exposed to someone close to you who has COVID, and it also monitors you. You have to install it to get into the country, so it’s super strict and very closed,” she said.
But while she’s been in Japan for several days – and has a great view from her balcony, where she filmed her segment – she admitted she didn’t actually get to see anything of the city.
“Most of the quarantine: you can’t leave the hotel. You can go to your workspace or you can go to the hotel. You can walk out for 15 minutes a day, that’s it,” she said, revealing that colleague Natalie Morales had started a walking club at the hotel.
But she did share that the city is ‘so immaculate, the stadium’ [and] the halls are beautiful.’
“You do get the feeling that Tokyo has thrown a party and that everyone is dressed up,” she said.
Athletes seem to have a little more wiggle room than the press so far, with some competitors sharing photos since arriving in Tokyo
Members of Team USA’s women’s gymnastics team, including Simone Biles, Jordan Chiles, Sunisa Lee and MyKayla Skinner, have shared photos around the Olympic Village
Athletes seem to have a little more wiggle room than the press so far, with some competitors sharing photos since arriving in Tokyo.
Members of Team USA’s women’s gymnastics team, including Simone Biles, Jordan Chiles, Sunisa Lee and MyKayla Skinner, shared photos in the Olympic Village — wearing masks, of course — and on the mat during practice.
US Softball’s Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott have also shared shots with their teammates, as has surfer Carissa Moore.
But while everyone seems 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 football players Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi and American gymnast Kara Eaker.
In fact, Toshiro Muto, head of the Olympic Committee, said on Tuesday that it is still possible for the games to be canceled at the last minute.
US Softball’s Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott also shared shots with their teammates
The athletes have masks, but pulled them down to eat and drink
Surfer Carissa Moore also shared a photo of her team in Tokyo being greeted by locals
“We cannot predict what will happen to the number of coronavirus cases,” Muto said. “So we’ll continue the discussion when it’s peaked. We have agreed that we will again hold five-party consultations based on the coronavirus situation.
“Right now, coronavirus cases can rise or fall, so we’ll be thinking about what to do if the situation arises.”
It comes as the number of cases linked to the Games rose to 71 involving infections in Athletes’ Village, and three more sponsors have announced they will not send representatives to the opening ceremony due to anger at the event going ahead.
At least one of those cases — a member of Uganda’s weightlifting team — is the highly contagious Delta strain, and Japan has also warned of the strain’s spread among the general population.
A Tokyo 2020 spokesperson later said the organizers were “100% focused on delivering successful Games.”
The number of COVID-19 cases in Tokyo is on the rise and the Games, which were postponed last year due to the pandemic, will be held without spectators.
Toshiro Muto, head of Tokyo’s organizing committee, was asked at a press conference whether the Games could still be canceled and said meetings would take place later this week.
Japan sees 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 decided this month that participants would compete in empty halls to minimize the risk of further infections.
At a closed meeting of the International Olympic Committee in Tokyo on Tuesday, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga acknowledged there are “great difficulties” for the world and the Games, but said he is determined that the event will be a “success”.
“Such a fact must be communicated from Japan to the rest of the world,” Suga said through an interpreter. “We will protect the health and safety of the Japanese public.”
He acknowledged that Japan’s path to the Olympics had “sometimes gone backwards” through the pandemic.
“But the vaccination has started and after a long tunnel an exit is now in sight,” Suga said.
In Mexico, two members of the country’s baseball team tested positive before their departure, the country’s baseball federation said Tuesday.
The athletes, Hector Velazquez and Sammy Solis, who tested positive on July 18, have been isolated, as have all team members pending the results of more tests, it said.