Health protocol introduces 'new norm' for media at Tokyo 2020

Add Time:2021-07-22 Hits:69

It's an easy guess that throughout Jia Xiuquan's long career as a footballer and later as a coach, he has spent considerable time with media reporters taking their questions.

But it could be a unique experience for the 57-year-old head coach of the Chinese women's football team when he had to crane his neck upwards to the reporters to take their questions on Monday while his team were training for the first match in the Tokyo Olympics Games.

Such a scene might be a new norm of media interviews due to the COVID-19 health protocol put in place by the organizers and the Japanese government, which keep teams isolated in "bubbles" from the outside world for the concerns over their health and safety.

Among the rules for the athletes is the requirement to wear a face mask at all times, except when eating, drinking, training, competing or sleeping. They are also required to minimize physical interactions with others and always think of their hygiene.

While necessary as the Games is held under the COVID-19 pandemic, these rules have posed a challenge for reporters, who used to make every attempt to get as close as possible to their interviewees.

The Games organizers are very determined to implement "bubble" plans as when reporters arrived at the football pitch where Team China has been training since Sunday, they found even the fence surrounding the pitch was sealed to prevent outside peeking.

When allowed to enter the training site, the reporters were asked to stay in the stands while the team stayed on the pitch, which left Jia no choice but to look up to the reporters throughout the short interview of 15 minutes.

He was seen touching the back of his neck several times, an obvious sign that the "looking-up" interview was taking a toll on his neck. However, the coach expressed understanding of the anti-COVID measures.

"As we always say, lives are of utmost importance, and health should be prioritized," he said.

But when Jia and his Team China play their first match against Brazil on Wednesday, they could at least expect some pre-pandemic atmosphere for a football match. Miyagi is among the few places where spectators are allowed for the Games while barred in most Olympic venues due to the outbreak.

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