Unprepared Olympic arrivals exacerbate confusion at airports
International airport officials express frustration with the Tokyo Olympic Games Organizing Committee over the failure of its anti-coronavirus measures which has resulted in confusion, delays and anger at the ports of entry of the Japan.
Foreign arrivals clearly linked to the Olympics were sent home due to insufficient documentation. And many of those who arrive with the proper papers are allowed to enter the country even though they are obviously not among the people needed to host the Games.
The constant flow of overseas arrivals ahead of the July 23 opening ceremony has also created a hurdle for Japanese nationals seeking to return home from countries where COVID-19 cases are on the rise due to variant strains.
Under rules to control new coronavirus infections in Japan, foreign travelers unrelated to the Olympics are denied entry.
In mid-July, a delegation of athletes landed at Narita International Airport from South America. But one of the arrivals did not have the necessary Olympic accreditation card to enter Japan.
A person related to an Olympic sponsor arrived from another country with a son who was only a minor but who had an accreditation card. They were admitted.
“The Tokyo Olympic Games Organizing Committee has said it will reduce the number of foreign arrivals, but people who we doubt have a deep connection to the Olympics are arriving in droves,” a source said. Narita Airport.
Sources said there have been several cases of people linked to the Olympics being refused entry due to inappropriate documents.
A freelance journalist submitted a negative test certificate at an international airport, but authorities were unable to accept it as details such as when and where the test was to be carried out were missing. In addition, the test method indicated on the document was not among those accepted by the Japanese government.
The journalist protested but was expelled.
Others said many Olympics-related arrivals clearly had not read the so-called organizers’ manual which sets out the rules for their time in Japan.
One rule is that all newcomers download OCHA, a special tracking app, on their smartphones.
An airport source said: “Almost half of Olympics-related arrivals did not download it. Some do not seem to have read the playbook at all. “
For example, an Olympic delegation of dozens of athletes from a country in the Middle East recently arrived in Japan. Only three of them had downloaded the app.
Those who don’t have the app are encouraged at airports to install it, but this has resulted in further delays and confusion.
The situation has hampered government efforts to bring back Japanese nationals from countries like Indonesia where the Delta variant has caused a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Japanese arrivals are urged to self-isolate for 14 days at home, but those returning from countries where COVID-19 cases are on the rise are urged to self-isolate for 10 days in hotels.
The government has secured around 2,000 hotel rooms in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area for self-isolation of Japanese nationals arriving in Narita.
There are now concerns about a shortage of hotel rooms, as more and more Japanese students studying abroad are expected to return home for their summer vacation.
A government source said that 500 hotel rooms that had been reserved for the return of the Japanese were turned over to those related to the Olympics in response to a request from the organizing committee.
The shortage of hotel rooms has led the government to relocate Japanese nationals arriving at Chubu Airport in Aichi Prefecture to isolate themselves there.