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Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Olympic Village 'bubble' opens in coronavirus-hit Tokyo

Daily testing and limited activity aim to keep infections to a minimum

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Village in Tokyo. Athletes are expected to remain in the village or at competition and practice venues throughout the event. (Photo by Kai Fujii)

TOKYO -- The Olympic Village on Tokyo Bay opened Tuesday ahead of the start of the games on July 23, keeping thousands of athletes and staff in a bubble as the capital remains under a state of emergency.

The village opened without ceremony in order to avoid a large gathering that could ignite infections. Vehicles carrying athletes from Canada, Brazil and the U.S. arrived at the village in the morning. The athletes underwent temperature and baggage checks then boarded autonomous electric vehicles that took them to the residential building.

The village will provide housing and around-the-clock dining for most of the roughly 11,000 athletes from about 200 countries and regions who are participating in the Olympics, and aim to prevent the coronavirus from getting in or out amid yet another wave of cases.

Residents will be subject to daily coronavirus screening, and sent to the village's fever clinic for further examination if they test positive or have a fever. Any participants who test positive at the airport when they enter the country will be transported to the facility in a dedicated vehicle.

If a follow-up PCR test also comes up positive, the resident will be sent to a hotel for quarantine or to a hospital.

The main dining hall at the Olympic Village: athletes will have access to meals 24 hours a day.   © Reuters

While in Japan, athletes will generally be restricted to the village, competition venues and training facilities. Organizers have requested that participants arrive at the village no earlier than five days before the start of their competition, but they will be flexible depending on individual circumstances.

While organizers' playbooks for keeping the games coronavirus-free do not require vaccinations, the International Olympic Committee has said it estimates that more than 80% of village residents will be vaccinated.

Located in Tokyo's seaside district of Harumi, the athletes' village consists of roughly 3,800 housing units, a main dining hall and a gym, among other facilities. They will be used by athletes until the Paralympic Games end on Sept. 8. The units will later be sold or rented as regular housing, with new residents allowed to enter beginning in the spring of 2024.

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