Athletes At The Tokyo Olympics Are Being Given Condoms, And Warnings Not To Use Them

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NPR 21 July, 2021 - 02:59pm 21 views

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Organizers of this year's Olympics in Tokyo are putting a new meaning behind "look, but don't touch."

The Games are ordinarily a place where many of the young athletes mix, mingle, and naturally get very close.

As they have since the 1980s, organizers ordered thousands of condoms for athletes to safely hook up in Tokyo. To be specific, Japanese organizers ordered 160,000 condoms to be handed out to athletes in the Olympic Village.

But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tokyo organizers also want participants to refrain from any kind of intimate physical activity outside of their sport.

That means: Those condoms we gave you? Don't use them — at least not while you're inside the Olympic bubble.

The topic may elicit a giggle, but the penalties athletes face if they violate these rules are serious, as are the reasons for implementing them.

Athletes are under strict coronavirus protocols, as Tokyo and other regions of Japan are under a state of emergency due to COVID-19. They must follow social distancing guidelines and abide by bans on handshakes, high fives, and other types of physical, close contact, according to the rulebook.

Any participant who violates the rules could face fines, disqualification, and the loss of Olympic medals if they're found to be repeat offenders. If athletes choose to flout the rules on intimacy, they'll also have to contend with the small cardboard-frame beds that are provided to Olympians.

Read full article at NPR

Thrill of Olympic competition vs. COVID-19 anxiety in Japan

CBC News: The National 21 July, 2021 - 02:01pm

Tokyo's drinkers drown frustrations over virus limits, Games

Associated Press 21 July, 2021 - 02:01pm

TOKYO (AP) — On the eve of the Tokyo Olympics, the government’s attempt to curb a coronavirus surge by targeting drinkers is drowning in liquor, frustration and indifference.

Japan has asked the city’s restaurants and bars to close by 8 p.m., if not entirely, to keep people from socializing in close contact with strangers and spreading the virus, but the state of emergency hasn’t deterred many. Instead, drinkers moved outdoors, and many bars in Tokyo’s famed nightlife districts are bustling with defiant customers.

“Nobody is convinced when (the government) victimizes people who are drinking alcohol without showing decent scientific evidence, even while going ahead with the Olympics,” said Mio Maruyama, a 28-year-old real estate industry worker who was chatting with her colleagues on the street in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district.

She says she’s interested in watching the Games, especially new sports like skateboarding and Japan’s Rui Hachimura, an NBA star, “but when I think of how politicians are playing around with this, I’m not quite rooting for this event from my heart.”

“It’s not that we are breaking the rules just because we’re against the inconsistency between politicians’ words and actions,” she said, referring to a 40-person reception for International Olympic Committee members on Sunday that included the prime minister and the governor of Tokyo. “But when you see such things, you might think that rulebreakers were right in doing what they’re doing.”

The IOC reception happened at a time when the public is barred from going to parties or even attending most Olympic events. Many Japanese are frustrated by that contrast — but are hardly staying home.

At around 9:30 p.m. in Shinjuku, people crisscrossed in front of the world’s busiest train terminal. Nighttime turnout was modest compared to before the pandemic, but bar districts like Kabukicho were still illuminated with neon lights from a few food establishments that were still open after 8 p.m.

Exempted from the emergency state mandate, 24/7-open convenience stores were busy with shoppers. Near one of the shops, some drinkers were talking with city workers wearing green Tokyo Metropolitan Government vests who were asking people to refrain from drinking and chatting outside.

On a quiet street in east Shinjuku, Naoto Suga picked up a can of lemon-flavored liquor that his friend had just brought him. They sat on a curbside, along with around a dozen others who were also drinking on the street.

“We’ve been here every night for the past three days or so,” said Suga, 25, who works in a nearby apparel shop.

“I don’t think the Olympics itself made this (situation), but even before the Games, things like the state of emergency have remained half measures, and I think that’s making things worse,” he said. “People are all used to the state of emergency, so it’s getting less meaningful now.”

Suga, who hasn’t received the COVID-19 vaccine yet, also lamented the slower rollout in Japan, especially for younger people. Everyone 12 and older is eligible to be vaccinated, but younger people are last in line. Only 22% of Japan’s population has been fully vaccinated so far.

“To be honest, I’m for hosting the Olympics; it’s better than not doing so given the debt of venue buildings,” he said. “But I don’t quite have a particular sport I want to watch. I’ve lost interest.”

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