The Tokyo Olympic journey for athletes who earned a spot on their country’s team has been more difficult than ever given the global pandemic the world still faces.
For our NBC 5 team, the work of preparation and arrival in Tokyo was more difficult than ever.
My photographer, Juan Rodriguez, and I had to pass two negative, doctor-approved COVID-19 tests before we could get to DFW Airport. The first test was carried out 96 hours before takeoff and the second 72 hours before takeoff to Japan.
After the negative tests were signed, we were sent PDF forms which we had to present to the boarding agent at the airport. These forms, along with our passports and other documents required by the Japanese government were presented on Friday morning before we could pass the TSA line of check at the airport.
Once these documents were approved, we went through international security at DFW airport.
After that, we had to show all the important documents required by the Japanese government to the boarding agent again before we could board the flight.
The over 6,400 mile flight to Japan took just under 13 hours.
Once we landed at Narita International Airport in Japan, we disembarked and were told to wait before we could enter the airport. The airport, which is usually teeming with people, was almost a ghost town. One of the airport officials told us that the airport was partially closed during the COVID emergency the country was experiencing.
My photographer and I were then taken to another counter where we had to present our passport, customs forms, a mobile phone app required by the Japanese government that shows our medical condition and evidence of negative COVID tests we brought it back to DFW.
From there we were taken to another room where we did a COVID saliva test.
Then we were sent to another counter where they again checked our immigration documents and proof of negative COVID tests before moving on earlier in the week.
We then had to sit in designated seats until our COVID test results at the Japan airport came back negative. Once that happened, we received our media credentials for the Tokyo Olympics, which serve as our work visas to be in the country.
We were then taken to another counter where they again checked our health check documents and sent us to the customs counter where our passports were stamped and our fingerprints taken.
From there we could collect our luggage at baggage claim and had to go through another checkpoint to prove that we had permission to be in the country for the duration of the Olympics.
After passing this last checkpoint, we waited about 20 minutes for the special vans that took the employees of the NBC branch to the hotels. We are not allowed to take public transport during our first 14 days in Japan. We are under soft quarantine, so we need to have our own drivers and vans to make sure we all stay away from the general public.
Our trip from start to finish took just over 25 hours, but every minute is worth it so we can tell the stories of the North Texas athletes who worked so hard and waited so long to show off their talents. .
The Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday July 23 with the Opening Ceremony.