Olympics COVID-19 safety, US athletes to watch

Japan 2020

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Opening Ceremony for the Olympics kicks off in just a few weeks on July 23 — promising to be a Games unlike any other as coronavirus safety precautions paint the experience for athletes, coaches, volunteers and fans.

Japan has administered 37 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine as of June 24, the World Health Organization reports. That’s almost 14% of the population, the Associated Press reports, and as of Monday, the country has seen 16 straight days of an increase in cases. On Saturday there were 716 new cases — the highest amount in five weeks.

The International Olympic Committee and other leaders are expected to meet this week to announce new restrictions as the country prepares for tens of thousands of athletes, coaches and staff to arrive for the Olympics. Already, the Olympic Village experience is expected to be much less interactive — with screens separating people at meals and in the gym.

  • TOKYO, JAPAN - JUNE 20: A general view of fitness center during the Olympic and Paralympic Village media tour on June 20, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. About a month before the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, preparations for the games are progressing in various places including the athlete village, however, opponents are continuing protests over the situation of COVID-19 and operation costs. (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)
  • TOKYO, JAPAN - JUNE 20: A general view of doping control station during the Olympic and Paralympic Village media tour on June 20, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. About a month before the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, preparations for the games are progressing in various places including the athlete village, however, opponents are continuing protests over the situation of COVID-19 and operation costs. (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)
  • A view of hand sanitisers at the main dining hall of the Olympic Village during a media tour of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Village in Tokyo on June 20, 2021. (Photo by Behrouz MEHRI / AFP) (Photo by BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images)
  • A view of coffee makers at the main dining hall of the Olympic Village during a media tour of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Village in Tokyo on June 20, 2021. (Photo by Behrouz MEHRI / AFP) (Photo by BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty Images)
  • TOKYO, JAPAN - JUNE 20: A general view of the athletes' room replica during press preview of the Village Plaza as part of the Olympic and Paralympic Village media tour on June 20, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. About a month before the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, preparations for the games are progressing in various places including the athlete village, however, opponents are continuing protests over the situation of COVID-19 and operation costs. (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)
  • TOKYO, JAPAN - JUNE 20: A general view of main dining hall during the Olympic and Paralympic Village media tour on June 20, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. About a month before the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, preparations for the games are progressing in various places including the athlete village, however, opponents are continuing protests over the situation of COVID-19 and operation costs. (Photo by Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images)

Officials have already said fans from outside Japan will not be able to attend the Games but had previously suggested people who live there may be able to watch in the stands. Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto said last week she would work to address concerns to hold a safe Olympics.

“Under a situation where things change moment by moment, I’m aware that I need to prepare for changes on a daily basis, including a choice of no spectators,” Hashimoto said.

The U.S. government plans to send representatives to the opening ceremony, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said last week the delegation could include First Lady Jill Biden. President Joe Biden did not plan to attend.

Athletes to watch

Our Nexstar team has highlighted a number of U.S. athletes to keep an eye on during the Games — besides standout favorites like gymnast Simone Biles, Track and Field star Allyson Felix and swimmer Katie Ledecky. Watch profiles of each of these athletes in the video at the top of this story.

  • Taekwondo: Victoria Stambaugh from Houston, Texas
  • Track and Field (hurdles): Grant Holloway from Cheasapeake, Virginia
  • Track and Field (marathon): Galen Rupp from Portland, Oregon
  • Skateboarding: Jake Ilardi from Osprey, Florida
  • Wrestling: Kyle Snyder from Woodbine, Maryland
  • Golf: Nelly Korda from Bradenton, Florida
  • Swimming: Andrew Wilson from Bethesda, Maryland

Watch Japan 2020 Monday through Friday during the Olympic Games at 1 p.m. ET/12 p.m. CT as we go through the day’s highlights and hear from Nexstar reporters in Tokyo.

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