Canada’s veteran athletes foresee a sterile expertise for his or her rookie counterparts in Tokyo’s Summer Olympics.
Sterility is the identify of those Games with an estimated 70,000 individuals, together with 11,000 athletes, arriving from all components of a world not fairly freed from COVID-19.
The Tokyo Games, postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, will attempt to deliver the world collectively for sport, but maintain it aside and distanced on the similar time.
A dozen days out from Friday’s opening ceremony, Tokyo entered a state of emergency due to rising circumstances of an infection and barred Japanese spectators from attending occasions.
For Canadian athletes, no worldwide guests means no household or mates to make eye contact with within the stands. Athletes aren’t even allowed to go help Canadian teammates in different venues.
A gauntlet of throat and nasal swabs and temperature checks await each athletes who beforehand competed in a “normal” Olympic Games and debutantes.
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The Tokyo organizing committee additionally desires athletes and everybody else to get out of Japan as quickly as their function within the Games is over.
For five-time Olympic sailor Nikola Girke, which means an important ingredient will probably be lacking or diminished in Tokyo: “The ‘five-ring circus,’ the whole hoopla that surrounds the Olympics and the excitement of seeing and being among all of the other athletes from all the other countries.”
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The 43-year-old windsurfer from West Vancouver, B.C., is accustomed to staying in a sailing satellite village, but also getting a taste of the athletes’ village after she’s done competing.
“These Olympics, it will be completely segregated in that sense,” Girke said. “There will be none of that.”
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Loitering within the athletes’ village eating corridor, meal tray in hand, watching the world go by, can also be discouraged.
Athletes can see others by clear dividers, however directions are to eat and transfer on.
“The dining hall is a disaster, but it’s part of the Olympic experience,” mentioned two-time Olympic seaside volleyball participant Sarah Pavan of Kitchener, Ont. “I did not think so many thousands of people would be eating at the same time, always.
“I do know they’re getting individuals out of the village, or overseas 24 to 48 hours after they’re completed competing, so there will not be the hanging out, or soaking within the Olympics, going to look at different sports activities.
“That was such a fun part of the Olympics for me, just getting to experience the other sports. Even for myself, I wish the Olympics were going to be normal, but for people who — this is their first experience — it’s kind of sad.”
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Athletes marching behind their countries’ flags in the opening ceremonies feel what they’re about to do is special, and it’s a much-anticipated right of passage for a first-time Olympian.
Only a small contingent of 30 to 40 Canadian athletes will march into Olympic Stadium on Friday.
Athletes aren’t allowed into the village until five days before they compete, so fewer Canadian athletes will physically be there by then.
Many of them will be too close to the start of their competition to file in behind flag-bearers Miranda Ayim of the women’s basketball team and men’s rugby sevens co-captain Nathan Hirayama.
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“We have a smaller population who is even here and available to go into the opening ceremony,” chef de mission Marnie McBean mentioned.
“There will be a presence of Team Canada. It will look smaller than normal, but it will be a concentrated group of athletes who are looking to have a good time.”
Hugging and shaking palms with opponents is frowned upon, though athletes could overlook that within the rush of emotion after touching the wall or crossing the end line.
Medallists will cling their very own medals round their necks as a substitute of bowing for an International Olympic Committee member or worldwide federation head to take action.
An atmosphere fostering connections and relationships — not solely with athletes from different nations, however with host-country residents — will probably be hampered by masks masking faces and the requirement to distance from one another.
“Any new Olympians, this is their first experience and it’s not going to be what the Olympics truly are,” mentioned runner Melissa Bishop-Nriagu of Eganville, Ont.
“I know Japan will put on an amazing Games. I wish we weren’t in a pandemic, because I think it would have been incredible what they would have done.”
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Girke’s crusing teammate Sarah Douglas, who makes make her Olympic debut in Tokyo, has an inkling what she’ll be lacking based mostly on her earlier Pan American Games experiences.
“I’m going to be kind of restricted in my movement and just being in my little bubble of a sailing venue,” mentioned the 27-year-old from Toronto.
“I’m excited because when you have the Canada flag on your sail, it’s something special. I am a bit bummed that it’s not going to be the experience I thought it was going to be, but I think any experience in going to the first Olympics is something special.
“There’s so many various points of it that make it most likely a bit extra mentally difficult than a traditional Olympics, however nothing about this now’s regular.”
For 18-year-old swimmer Josh Liendo, what he doesn’t know doesn’t hurt.
“I have not been to 1 earlier than, so I’ve nothing to check it to love the opposite guys,” the Toronto teen said.
“I’m simply excited to race guys from different nations and race some quick swimmers. That’s what I’m actually on the lookout for: some individuals to problem.”