The Olympic Village is situated in Tokyo’s Harumi waterfront district, touching the Heritage and Tokyo Bay Zones, where most competitions will occur. 21 residential buildings, totaling 3,600 rooms, comprise the entire village complex. Following the games, it will become a residential neighborhood.
All athletes must be tested once a day for COVID-19 if they’re living in the village. For anyone who tests positive, protocol mandates the individual be isolated and tested further and identified as close contacts and potentially infected.
Life as a Journalist
Treatment of foreign media members in Tokyo has been starkly different from the athletes. According to Sports Illustrated, journalists are only permitted to leave their hotels to visit Olympic venues.
Each visit is limited to 15 minutes, counted down by event staff with stopwatches.
For many, the only time to sightsee around Tokyo is the shuttle ride that gets these media members from point A to B.
SI also reports the hand-dryers in the restrooms have been disabled because of COVID-19. But there are no paper towels to replace them.
Hotel elevators are segregated for ordinary guests and media members, requiring journalists to wait for an extended period of time if the elevator that arrives first isn’t theirs.
What’s to Eat?
The main dining hall features 700 food choices. Every table features plexiglass dividers, and the athletes have the ability to spread out across the hall’s upper and lower levels.
It’s also been encouraged to eat and to leave the dining hall quickly. Diners must wipe down tables and chairs after their meals. It’s similar to how many American gyms required members to wipe down equipment before and after use during the height of the pandemic.
Australian water polo player Tilly Kearns shared more about the Olympic dining experience on TikTok with a virtual tour:
Sitting at a table with plexiglass dividers “makes mealtime conversations pretty difficult because it’s hard to hear through them, but it keeps us safe,” Kearns said.
Related: Fueling Olympians in Tokyo
For those not staying overnight at the village, the IOC advises them “eat alone as much as possible.”
Sleeping at the Village
Cardboard beds in the village dominated conversations on Instagram and Twitter for days leading up to the Olympics.
When the games finish, the frames and mattresses of 18,000 beds will be recycled and transformed into something new. It should be clarified that the mattresses aren’t made of cardboard.
Proper sleep is paramount to an athlete’s success, and so many detractors of the cardboard beds believed athletes staying at the village put themselves at a competitive disadvantage.
Team USA archer Brady Ellison told NBC 7, San Diego, that he’d experienced no issues with his accommodations at the village.
“They’re trying to be very green in these villages, and they’re made out of cardboard and recycled stuff,” Ellison said. “They have like a 500-pound rating on them… you could probably get a whole gymnast team on a bed, and it’s not going to break or anything.”
Related: Cardboard Beds in Tokyo Elicit Laughter And Concern
Ellison’s teammate Jack Williams said, “I actually kind of like [the cardboard bed]. I can’t tell the difference.”
Because in-person spectators are not permitted at any Olympic venue this summer, there’s speculation about how the lack of crowd noise and silence may influence the performances we see from those competing.
And the COVID-19 protocols for the athletes, to begin with, appear to be pretty stringent, limiting social interaction as much as possible to stem the rise of new cases.
NPR documented the typical day in Tokyo for Argentine field hockey player Emiliano Boss, which sounds like a lonely experience.
“I wake up in the morning, and I have breakfast and eat inside the room. I get a taxi to go to the practice and back to the hotel,” Boss said. “Dinner inside the room.”
The state of emergency in Tokyo requires restaurants to close by 8 p.m., not that it matters to athletes and coaches anyway who must only travel between their venue and hotel.
“It’s the venue, it’s the hotel,” said Netherlands rowing team trainer Koen de Haan. “And in between, we’re in a taxi, or the rowers are on the bus.”
5 American athletes have had to withdraw from the Olympics already, including NBA all-star Bradley Beal and former UCONN player Katie Lou Samuelson. Both Beal and Samuelson tested positive for COVID-19.
CNN reported that at least 71 cases of Covid-19 linked to Olympic games in Tokyo, as of Fri July 23, 2021.
It is also unclear how many athletes have been fully vaccinated. The I.O.C. stated that it expected 85 percent of athletes, coaches, and team staff staying in the Olympic Village to be vaccinated.
Covid Cases Tokyo