June 16, 2024
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Team Great Britain's headquarters in Tokyo.
Team Great Britain’s headquarters in Tokyo. Bex Wright/CNN

CNN visited Team Great Britain’s headquarters in Tokyo and found some of the strictest Covid-19 safety measures in place, which go well beyond Tokyo 2020 and International Olympic Committee guidelines.

The team has taken over an elementary school along the waterfront overlooking Tokyo Bay for athlete training and medical services. They have emblazoned the Union Jack design over the walls of the four-story building, and even have a rooftop garden with Union Jack deck chairs for the athletes to relax.

There is almost a blanket ban on in-person interviews until after the athletes have completed all of their events.

This is partly for preventing a potential infection, which could force athletes to drop out of the Games. The other reason for this is so the athletes can stay mentally focused.

To access the waterside complex, the CNN team went through a rigorous testing process.

Members of the media team took a rapid antigen test, also known as a lateral flow test, which give results within 15 minutes. The tests are not as accurate as PCR tests, but provide a quick indication of positive cases.

CNN interviews Team GB swimmer Tom Dean. The interviews are kept to under ten minutes.
CNN interviews Team GB swimmer Tom Dean. The interviews are kept to under ten minutes. Bex Wright/CNN

The test is self-administered, guided by a member of the Team GB contingent. The media personnel has to swab their own throat and nostrils with a long cotton swab, which is then dropped into a fluid solution in a tube. That solution is then dropped onto a small plastic testing device. After 15 minutes the results appear, showing one line for negative or two lines for positive — similar to a pregnancy test.

After the CNN team tested negative, it was allowed to continue to the fourth-floor rooftop, where media teams are lined up to speak to their medal-winning athletes. Interviews are conducted in the outdoor rooftop space, with the reporter and athlete standing two meters apart, maintaining social distance.

The interaction lasts under 10 minutes, a sign that even though Covid-19 cases are going up rapidly at home in the UK, the team on the ground in Tokyo is taking every precaution.