The first international athletes arrive in Japan for the Olympic Games
Australia’s national women’s softball team became the first international competitor to arrive in Japan ahead of the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday, showing confidence in a besieged event battling a coronavirus outbreak and growing public opposition.
The 23 players and 10 staff, all vaccinated against Covid-19, landed at Narita International Airport outside Tokyo and were on their way to the city of Ota, where they will train before move to the Olympic Village on July 17.
The team, known as the Aussie Spirit, must strictly limit its movements as Japan attempts to contain a prolonged fourth wave of the coronavirus. The Japanese government on Friday extended the state of emergency in Tokyo and eight other prefectures until June 20. expires June 13.
New daily infections have fallen by more than 40% in the past two weeks, according to a New York Times database, but Japan still records more than 3,500 cases a day, the most since January.
The Australian team will be confined to one floor of a hotel, where players will eat, train and have meetings. They will only be able to leave the hotel to train.
“They will be extremely limited in what they can do each day, and it’s going to take another sacrifice from them, but it’s a sacrifice they are ready for,” Ian Chesterman, Australian Olympic Committee vice-president, said Monday.
The players have not faced any international team since February 2020, with Australia’s borders almost completely closed since the start of the pandemic. Their early arrival in Japan will allow them to train against professional Japanese softball clubs and the Japan national team. Of the 23 Australian players who traveled to Japan, a team of 15 will be selected to compete in the Games, which are scheduled to start on July 23.