Every athlete is separated by plastic divider in dining hall
With cases of Covid among athletes already reported ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, one Olympian has shared some of the day-to-day safety precautions athletes are following to stay safe in the Olympic Village.
Since arriving in Tokyo for the Olympic Games, which begin on 23 July, Australian water polo player Tilly Kearns has been sharing behind-the-scenes moments on TikTok and Instagram, which have included a look at the infamous cardboard beds created for athletes.
In her most recent TikTok, uploaded on Wednesday, the 20-year-old detailed some of the rigorous safety protocols athletes are being required to follow in the Olympic dining hall, including a team rule that limits eating to just 10 minutes.
“This is how we keep Covid-safe in the Olympic dining hall,” Kearns narrated the video as she showed herself and her teammates walking into the large room and heading immediately for hand sanitiser located near the entrance.
The athletes then move over to a table where packages of plastic gloves are laid out, with Kearns explaining: “First we sanitise, and then put these gloves on before we touch anything.”
After ensuring that their hands are clean and covered, the athletes then grab a tray, which has also been “sanitised and washed”.
Kearns then shared footage of the Olympic dining hall, in which other Olympians, who are also wearing masks, can be seen getting food from various stations.
“As we walk around, obviously we’ve got our masks on,” Kearns continued, before showing the cubicles where the athletes sit to eat, which are divided by plastic shields. “In every little cubicle, there are disinfectant wipes so we wipe down everything that we’re going to touch,” including the screens, the sides and their chairs.
According to Kearns, the plastic dividers make meal-time conversations “pretty difficult” because it is hard to hear through them, before acknowledging: “But it keeps us safe.”
The water polo star then revealed that the Australian team has a “team-rule” that, once they have removed their mask, they only have 10 minutes to eat to “reduce exposure”.
“Then after we eat, we sanitise again and put another fresh mask on,” Kearns continued, adding that the team then picks up their garbage with the disinfectant wipe and then sanitise their hands again on their way out of the dining hall.
On TikTok, where the video has already been viewed more than 2m times since it was uploaded, it has prompted a range of responses, with many viewers applauding the Australian team for following the protocols while others have wondered whether the precautions are “excessive”.
“It seems like everyone on the Aussie team is taking this seriously! Appreciate it,” one person commented, while another said: “It’s interesting to see, I just feel bad that this is part of the Olympic experience this year.”
However, others suggested the strict precautions required were further proof that the games should have been postponed, with someone else writing: “This is a lot of effort for a non-essential event that shouldn’t really be happening in a time like this.”
“I just don’t understand why this couldn’t have been postponed,” another person added.
The video also prompted some responses from viewers concerned by the amount of waste being produced by each athlete through the use of gloves, sanitising wipes, and fresh masks each time they eat.
“I can’t stop thinking about the amount of waste generated,” one person wrote.
In addition to the rules required of athletes in the dining hall, the Tokyo Games have also implemented a range of other safety protocols to keep Covid from spreading, such as a ban on spectators in the stadium.
However, the 11,000 athletes participating in the Olympics were not required to be vaccinated against Covid, according to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which stated that it was not mandatory but “encouraged”.
You can find a full list of athletes that have tested positive for Covid at the Olympics so far here.