For Sakura Kokumai, karate’s addition to the Olympic program in Tokyo has been life-changing. A particularly memorable stretch occurred in March 2020.
The countdown is on for the Tokyo Olympics.The Games are scheduled for July 23 to August 8, and the Paralympics from August 24 to September 5.The one-year delay has already brought with it plenty of complications, and there are still some unanswered questions regarding things like: spectator numbers, and the so-called ‘Playbooks’.Some 11,000 Olympic athletes will compete in 33 sports, while over 4,000 Paralympians will compete across 22 sports.But with Japan’s elderly population only just starting to receive inoculations – there will be a need for restrictions still.International spectators will not be allowed. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) TOKYO 2020 PRESIDENT, SEIKO HASHIMOTO, SAYING:”I myself as an athlete participated in the Olympics a number of times so the fact that overseas spectators are not able to attend the Games is very disappointing.”Organizers plan to decide in April on the maximum number of local fans permitted in venues.Japanese sports arenas have been recently been operating at up to 50% capacity.Are athletes required to be vaccinated?The simple answer is: No.But the International Olympic Committee urges them to be vaccinated once vaccinations are made available to the general population of their countries.Participants must follow the health guidelines in their “Playbook.”What is it?First unveiled in February, the ”Playbooks” outline the rules that all Games participants must follow.That includes mandatory mask-wearing, keeping 2-metres’ distance from athletes, and clapping instead of singing or shouting to show support.Athletes will also be tested at least once every four days.(SOUNDBITE) (English) JOHN COATES, IOC COORDINATION COMMISSION CHAIR, SAYING:”I have no hesitation in saying that the Games will take place and they’ll be the safest Games possible.”Japan is holding several test events – seen as dress rehearsals to confirm the Games’ operational capabilities at venues and test out health protocols.Early May will see four such events with athletes coming from abroad.There will be no shortage of compelling action once the Games kick off.Four sports will debut at this year’s Olympics: karate, sport climbing, surfing, and skateboarding.Several stars from French judoka Teddy Riner to American swimmer Katie Ledecky will be back in the quest for more gold.Japanese swimmer Rikako Ikee competing after her recovery from leukaemia will no doubt be among the most emotional moments of the Games.