Headline, June 16 2021/ ''' '' OLYMPICS -UNUSUAL- *OSMOSIS '' '''


 *OSMOSIS '' '''

EAT - SLEEP - PLAY : A PREVIEW OF A VERY, very unusual world.

THE AUSTRALIAN SOFTBALL PLAYERS who arrived in Japan for the last stage of their training before the Tokyo Olympics have spent most of their lives trying to reach the world's pre-eminent sporting event.

Their constricted arrival offers a preview of an Olympics like no other, held as much of the globe remains in the clutches of a deadly pandemic.

There are daily tests for the coronavirus. The players are confined to three floors of their hotel in Ota City, about two and a half hours from Tokyo in Gunma Prefecture, and use one elevator separated from other guests. They eat in their own dining room.

Only six people are allowed in the gym at a time, so the 23 athletes have a rotating schedule. They're not allowed to visit local bars, restaurants or shrines, but they can gather in a hotel meeting room outfitted with Nintendo Switch.

''We're the guinea pigs at this point,'' said Tahli Moore, 27, who plays second base and outfield. ''We're showing it's possible, and we're showing it's really safe.

Even as the first of thousands of athletes arrive, nine prefectures in Japan are under a state of emergency in which restaurants and bars are asked to restrict hours and suspend alcohol service.

Although deaths in Japan have remained lower than in other hard-hit countries, nearly three times as many people died from the coronavirus in the first five months of this year than did all in 2020. The chief medical adviser to the government, Shigeru Omi, told a parliamentary committee that it was ''not normal'' to hold the Games under pandemic conditions. And about 10,000 Olympic volunteers have quit.

Despite the assurances, close to a quarter of the 528 communities that had initially signed up to host Olympic teams from abroad will no longer do so. Some towns have withdrawn their invitations.

But in many cases, international teams have decided not to come to Japan in advance of the Games because of the coronavirus concerns, said Yasuhiro Omori, an official with the Cabinet Secretariat division that is overseeing the host down initiative. Some of the towns are disappointed about the canceled visits.

OLYMPIC ORGANIZERS AND JAPANESE government officials say they are confident that the Games can be held safely.

Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, has said that at least 80 percent of athletes will be vaccinated by the time they arrive in Tokyo, and the president of the Japanese Olympic Committee told reporters last week that 45% of Japan's athletes would be vaccinated, [Among the general public, just 3 percent of Japanese have been fully inoculated.]

Even without vaccinations, Japan has managed to keep infections from spiraling out of control. Schools have remained open and many people continue to use public transit, shop and attend sports and other cultural events. Masks are ubiquitous.

For cities that do host athletes, the Japanese government has budgeted just over $115 million for extra protection against infection, said Mr. Omori of the Cabinet Secretariat.

He said the host towns had agreed to test athletes for the virus daily, assign them to segregated floors of hotels, charter buses to ferry them to training facilities, and install plastic dividers between tables in dining halls.

Mr. Omori said the visiting team must sign a form in which they promise not to make contact with the general public. With Japan currently barring most international travelers, Mr. Omori said, the athletes  ''are being given a very special exception on the understanding that they follow the rules.''

In Ota, a city of 250,000 people, the Australian softball players are five staff members - all of whom are vaccinated - are finishing a four-day quarantine confined to their hotel.

But the players said they had not noticed any surveillance of their movements. Other than guards outside the hotel, there does not appear to be any police presence to keep them locked down.

David Pryles, the chief executive of Softball Australia, said the team entourage included a well-being counselor to assist with the mental health, along with a team doctor - resources it would not necessarily include for international competition before the pandemic.

He said the restrictions on movement would be an enormous disappointment for many athletes.

Ms. Moore, the Australian baseman, said the team's arrival in Japan was strikingly muted. There was no welcome party, and there will be no interaction with family or fans. The team plans to train, play and then leave.

''It's a business trip, basically,'' she said.

Even the staff members at their hotel, she said, seem to be struggling with a mix of disappointment and resolve, as if they keep saying to themselves : Stay focused, stay safe, make the most of an imperfect event.

''They keep telling us to find our happiness,'' she said, ''which they're taking on board.''

Takao Sekine, 68, owner of La Terrasse Creole, a Western-style restaurant, sums up best :

Comparing the pandemic to World War II, he said : '' If American planes came flying over us, we could run away. But we can't run away from a virus you can't see. So people are very scared.''

As a result, he said, ''my honest feeling when thinking about the world is that the Olympics should stop.''

The Honor and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on State-Of-The-World, and Global Events, continues. The World Students Society thanks authors Motoko Rich and Damien Cave, and  Hikari Hida.

With respectful dedication to the Leaders, Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all  prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

''' Time - Tide '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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