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Bruce Arthur: Welcome to these Tokyo Olympics, where the IOC hopes you might follow the rules

Bruce Arthur: Welcome to these Tokyo Olympics, where the IOC hopes you might follow the rules
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TOKYO — One day in and the IOC is cracking down. Or threatening to crack down. Or gently asking, would you mind not flouting the rules, please? We’ve got a bit of an Olympics happening here.

The Olympics is always an exercise in trying to smooth out problems, and . The transportation system is already clanking, the web-based information system has hiccups, the heat is already hot. And the global pandemic, as it turns out, isn’t over.

So there has already been masslessness at the opening ceremony, some media misbehaviour, and boundary-pushing in the Olympic Village. Apparently the Irish are becoming a little notorious for not loving masks, which you wouldn’t expect. You learn something every day, or hope to.

“Yeah, we do hear from the athletes, and not just the athletes, about some people in the village not adhering to wearing masks,” says Dr. Mike Wilkinson, the chief medical officer for the Canadian Olympic Committee. “I wouldn’t say blatantly not wearing masks all the time, but sometimes they try to push loopholes or walking with a coffee or something like that, which is what we see.

“Basically, we do everything we can in our power to protect ourselves ... it’s wear the mask all the time when you are not in your room sleeping, or when you’re actually competing and training.

“I start to sound like a stuck record in this place. Being in this part of the world one plans for things like earthquakes, for tsunamis; we plan for all those disasters as well, potential disasters. COVID is certainly another level of that planning.”

That’s the good kind of paranoia, in what should be a more universally paranoid Games. But will those involved with this Games learn, and will it be the easy way or the hard way? You’re supposed to wear a mask everywhere you go, but the only problem with the IOC playbook beyond its lack of virology logic is that it is written for people who follow rules.

“The intention is the following: every time we start a meeting, every time we see someone without wearing a mask, and that happens a little bit everywhere, it’s our duty, it’s our duty all of us to say, reminder, mask please,” said Christophe Dubi, the IOC’s Games executive director. “This is very important, very important. And in most of the places people simply forget. I’ve been in Japan nearly two months, and to me when I’m not wearing it, I feel naked.

“Now if you have blatant behaviours that are absolutely unbearable, we will definitely take action. But it starts with informing and repeating this information so we don’t see people without masks. That’s absolutely clear.”

Unbearable is an interesting bar to set for a pandemic Olympics, one supposes; it’s like deciding how much Tokyo summer heat is too much before it kills you. Now, there has apparently been some unbearable behaviour, and I regret to say that as everyone on earth predicted, it appears to have come from the international media. The IOC has already yanked some media credentials for a day after what were described as serial violations, which were repeated even after multiple warnings.

Maybe it was bars, maybe it was restaurants, maybe it was public transit, and maybe it was wearing your mask like a hat. Media are not even supposed to leave their hotels for , until recently.

That has apparently changed. See? Smoothing things out.

“If it is necessary to go out anywhere in a short time, like in order to go to the convenience store in case the building does not have facilities for food, we still have to provide a certain level of those elements for those media who are under the 14-day quarantine period,” said organizing committee spokesman Masa Takaya Friday, per Inside the Games. “There will now be no 15-minute rule, but what we want to make sure is that thorough countermeasures are in place.”

Ah, fair enough. We want to be safe, but we also need to eat. The breakfast at my hotel is two pieces of white toast with a choice of two jams and coffee. So we can go grab some food?

“If you need to go out, even for a minute to get your meals, you need to just tell your security person at the entrance to say your name and room number. Under his or her surveillance you can of course go into a convenience store to buy your meals and come back as quickly as possible. There is no clear definition that it has to be within 15 minutes.”

OK. The security guards who sits in the hotel lobby are very friendly. Sounds good.

“If it is necessary to get meals, you need to get access to the convenience store outside the building, you just need to be within the sight of the security person.”

Uh, what if your convenience store is not right outside the building? Ours is not.

“It’s not like the security person will keep following you, it’s not like that, but we still have to say to the citizens in the local area that the 14-day quarantine is in place. Even if you have to go to a restaurant even for a short minute, you will have to be under the sight of this security person.”
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