Last weekend, Tokyo, Japan hosted an international gymnastics competition described as a “litmus test” of its ability to hold sports events during the pandemic, which will be less than a year from now before the virus-delayed Olympics.
This coming Sunday, the friendly tournament will feature teams from Japan, the United States, Russia, and China, and is the first international sporting event in the Japanese capital since Tokyo 2020 was postponed in March.
Sports officials at home and abroad will be watching closely, especially after a false positive COVID-19 test for Japan’s top Olympic star Kohei Uchimura rattled nerves in the run-up to the event.
‘King Kohei,’ a three-time Olympic gold medalist, tested positive for the virus last week, but several subsequent follow-up tests were negative, and he has been cleared to take part in Sunday’s event.
The gymnastics meet with Tokyo 2020 and Japanese government officials poring over plans for COVID-19 countermeasures in a bid to show they can host next year’s Games even if a vaccine is not available or widely in use.
Foreign athletes arriving for the competition were required to test negative for the COVID-19 within 72 hours of their arrival in Japan but have had a two-week quarantine period waived.
They traveled to Japan by charter planes and were separated from other passengers at the airport on arrival, Japanese media reported.
The US team began official practice on Thursday, but they and other foreign teams are subject to stringent restrictions.
All foreign athletes must take the tests daily, and their movement will just be limited to the competition arena, practice venues, and hotels, where each delegation is booking an entire floor.