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Tokyo Games athletes’ village with anti-virus steps unveiled to media

TOKYO – The athletes’ village for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics was unveiled to the media Sunday around a month before the games kick off, featuring enhanced anti-coronavirus measures and a fever clinic.


Around 18,000 athletes and officials are set to reside in 21 buildings in the 44-hectare village in the Harumi waterfront district of Tokyo that also houses a fitness center, recreational facility, polyclinic and 24-hour main dining hall.


The village will officially open on July 13, 10 days before the start of the Olympics, and serve as a base for athletes until three days after the closing ceremony on Aug. 8.


The site will formally welcome participants of the Paralympics between Aug. 17 and Sept. 8.


Organizers have touted the village, located around 6 kilometers from the main stadium, for its accessibility and ease of use for para-athletes.


Residents will be asked to undergo coronavirus testing daily, wear a face mask at all times except when eating and drinking, and practice physical distancing.


“I’m sorry for the organizers of the past Olympics, but this athletes’ village is better than the 11 villages I stayed in as an athlete and official,” said Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Japanese organizing committee, who competed at seven Olympics as a speed skater and track cyclist.


“The scenic view from the village is great and I think our hospitality is thoroughly in place such as in dining halls and training rooms. I think it will be a place in which the athletes can feel extremely at ease,” she said.


The fever clinic, with five isolation rooms, has been installed for medical care and to conduct polymerase chain reaction testing of suspected COVID-19 patients.


Visitors who test positive for the virus will be sent for quarantine at a designated hotel or hospitalized depending on symptoms.


The seats in the main dining and casual dining halls have been reduced by a third to around 3,000 and 280, respectively, to avoid crowds, while transparent acrylic panels will be installed at tables.


Meals will be served by staff to avoid athletes directly touching food or offered on plates prepared by staff in advance.


The main dining hall will provide about 700 options ranging from Japanese, Western and Asian to halal, vegetarian and gluten-free cuisine to cater to various preferences, cultures and religions, with nutritional information per serving displayed. It will offer 45,000 meals a day.


The casual dining hall, meanwhile, will offer 3,000 meals a day of Japanese cuisine, using ingredients from all of the country’s 47 prefectures. Menus include popular dishes such as rice balls, tempura and okonomiyaki, but sushi with raw fish will not be available.


The IOC has said 75 percent of prospective Olympic and Paralympic village residents, including about 15,000 athletes, have either already been vaccinated or are scheduled to be vaccinated, with the figure set to rise to over 80 percent when the games start.


It has provided Japan with a total of 40,000 doses of Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine, saying that inoculating those working or competing at the games will help ensure that they can be held safely and securely amid the pandemic.


Japan’s Olympic athletes started receiving vaccine shots on June 1, while staff and volunteers who will be working at the athletes’ village and competition venues as well as accredited media and health workers are also eligible for the shots.


The Village Plaza will serve as a social hub for the athletes, with a cafe, florist, bank, photo studio, store selling official Olympic merchandise, post office and dry cleaner.


The residential buildings of between 14 and 18 stories will have 18,000 beds for athletes and staff during the Olympics, and 8,000 during the Paralympics. The beds are contained in a total of 3,800 condominiums, which can hold up to eight people, with up to two beds per room.


The bed frames are made of sturdy recycled cardboard, reflecting organizers’ efforts to host an environmentally friendly and sustainable games.


The village’s residential buildings are planned to be renovated and converted into apartments after the games.

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