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Six days into the Tokyo Games, athletes are returning home

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July 26, 2021. Willy Ambaka of Kenya in action with Ronald Brown of South Africa and Selvyn Davids of South Africa. REUTERS

It has only been six days since the opening of the Tokyo Olympic Games but already athletes are starting their return trips as strict Covid-19 measures in Japan forbid any extended stays to soak up more of the Games atmosphere.

Teams normally stay on for a few days after their events have ended to take in the closing ceremony celebrations, watch other sports and party with other athletes.

This time, however, stringent health measures are forcing a quick return home well before the end of the July 23-August 8 sports extravaganza.

Athletes must arrive no earlier than five days before their competition starts and fly back within 48 hours of completing their sports to minimise the risk of infection and the spread of the virus among the local population.

Australia’s softball team departed for Sydney on Wednesday, as part of the first group of Team Australia’s athletes to leave Tokyo, and will go into a 14-day quarantine back home.

“While the team is vaccinated and have been tested every day while at the Games, like every returning Australian, they will remain in quarantine for 14 days and will undergo regular testing,” Australian Olympic Committee Chief Executive Matt Carroll said.

“The team return and quarantine has been an integral part of our planning for these Games.”

By next weekend, some 250 Australian athletes and officials of a team of more than 850 will be back home.

For German kayak gold medallist Ricarda Funk, who is leaving today, the Games were a huge success but she barely had time to soak up the atmosphere at the athletes’ village.


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