The event is important. In its own way, it marks the beginning of the Olympic era. The first foreign team selected for the Tokyo Games leaves for the Japanese capital on Monday, May 31st. 53 days before the opening ceremony.
Twenty-three players on the Australian softball team and five members of management have packed their bags into Japan at a time when polls continue to show Japanese public distrust of the Tokyo game. The Australian delegation is scheduled to land in Tokyo on Tuesday, June 1, after a nearly 10-hour flight. It reaches the city of Otta by bus in the province of Kunma, located in northwestern Tokyo.
Australians have been warned: for once, in Japan, their movements and their daily lives will be dominated by restrictions. Once they arrive on Tuesday, they will have to wait five or six hours to board their bus again, and a three-hour drive to the pre-Olympic training camp in Ottawa.
“As soon as we disembark, we will be taken care of and isolated from other passengers by the organizing committee representatives, and it is time to review all the forms and documents required as part of the health activities; Team psychologist Dietrey Anderson explained to the Australian Channel ABC. We will then perform saliva tests. We will have to wait for the results, probably at least two hours. All members of the delegation must sign a pledge that we understand and accept health practices. Finally, we have to download various mandatory applications, especially those dedicated to monitoring. ”
In Ottawa, where the Japanese softball team stays, Australians will live for weeks within the health bubble. The entire delegation, soldiers and staff, will occupy one floor of a hotel. David Briels, Managing Director, Softball Australia, explains:We eat, sleep, hold our meetings, and do all the physical work on this unique floor. We take our training equipment to Japan. We will leave the hotel on a safe site only for sports sessions. For this, we need to use a door located at the back of the establishment to avoid any contact with other residents. ”
The Australian team, which lost the tournament from the 2019 Olympic qualifiers, has been selected ahead of the move, along with Japan, six weeks before the start of the Tokyo Games. “Women have not been together since February 2020, Explains David Briels. They need to find each other. They have to play too. “Many production competitions are planned, especially against Japan, who won their first Olympic title at the 2008 Beijing Games.
In Ottawa, all scheduled exchanges with locals, especially school children, were canceled in their original form. They only take place in virtual mode via video conference.
But the Australian players were ready for all the shots that could occur before and after the game before they left. One or more cases of COVID, in particular, isolation, adjournment of trials … called for the team management to think about the answers to be given to the media, the game in the midst of an epidemic if the question of the relevance of maintenance arises.
Dietrey Anderson agrees: Some players have questioned his participation in the event. But, according to the psychologist, they are now convinced that their presence at the Tokyo Games will exceed their sporting goals. It takes on a planetary, positive and symbolic dimension. “Bigger than a sporting event ”, Summarizes the Australians.
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