Sunday 2 May 2021 10:00 am
Olympics: Tokyo welcomes foreign divers to test event
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. The event was also punctuated in the morning by an earthquake that shook the cavernous Tokyo Aquatics Centre, a reminder that the Games are taking place in one of the world’s most tectonically active regions. Divers expressed gratitude for the chance to compete but also frustrations that precautions against contagion denied them the chance to experience the city or get fresh air.
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