Oceania Athletics are thankful for the updates from our officials during their time in Tokyo. Great insight from inside the inner circle.

Helen Roberts (AUS) – Jury of Appeal

As I sit here in the foyer of our hotel, looking over at the stadium where I have just witnessed a fantastic race in the history of the Olympic Games (a World Record!). I find myself reflecting on the Tokyo 2020 Games so far. 

Helen, Robin and Trevor

Conclusion; We genuinely are experiencing once-in-a-lifetime games, whether from the daily saliva(spit) test to wearing gloves for breakfast. The continual temperature checks every time you go somewhere to having to be reminded to wear your mask. But these are minuscule and conclusively irrelevant to the enormity and privilege of being at the Games. 

At the halfway point, I’m savouring every moment and creating beautiful memories alongside outstanding local and international officials -one of which, our president, Robin Sapong; it has been a great pleasure getting to know him.

I feel there is so much more to come, more records, more history-making moments… we will see what unfolds in the next few days. 

Brian Roe (AUS) – International technical official (Start Referee)

Throughout the last 16 months, I honestly thought that I would not be in Tokyo right now – or even that there would be an Olympic Games at all.

However, I’m here, the athletes are here, and the only missing element is the spectators. It’s almost indescribable the relief and ultimately a beautiful sight to be personally witnessing. It is heartbreaking enough for those for whom the 12 months delay has meant their Olympic dream is over, but it would have been an even crueller blow if the games never went ahead. I’m incredibly proud and thankful for the Japanese and their ability to produce newfound games. 

At the halfway stage, the story is so far on point. Tried and true champions have succeeded once again whilst new stars have been born. For me, the only element that is defeating is that every achievement during these Games is only made before the athletes’ peers, their support staff, the media, and a handful of dignitaries. 

It is undeniably eerie in a way – yet spine-tingling special to be here.

On the first morning of athletics, it was more than a little strange to hear no response when athletes were introduced, and only one or two booming voices in the accolade of their coaches.

It certainly did not affect the quality of performances – which were exceptional for early rounds. It was very much as if the athletes were especially appreciative and aware of the opportunity to be here. We will see just how valid such a theory might be as the final week of the Games plays out.

What is sad, however, is just how lonely the Olympic precincts are. As technical officials for athletics, we have a good fortune, for once, to be housed in a quality hotel just 50 metres from the main stadium entrance. 

But we walk alone.

We are in a bubble comprising just the hotel and the stadium. Another group will be in Sapporo to officiate the outside events – the marathons and road walks.

Apart from a trip to and from the airport and a “bubble” bus trip to the uniform centre, that is the entirety of our Tokyo travel. Deep down, we expected things to have been even tighter, but we are, for example, able to take the short journey to and from the track unescorted.

Balancing that out, we are required to take a Covid test every day – luckily, the saliva version rather than the more invasive alternatives. Additionally, we are required to submit a health check by 2 pm each day – the only tricky part of which is to have remembered to have taken your temperature. But, true to Japans innovative form, there are temperature meters everywhere – in the hotels, at the security point when entering the stadium and in the venue itself – a constant reminder, however, peace of mind. 

Masks are compulsory except for the athletes whilst competing – and there are some quaint Japanese requirements such as wearing thin plastic gloves when serving yourself a meal from the buffet.

I have learned that managing a mask, glasses and radio headphones whilst being a responsible referee can be a challenge, especially when some physical exertion is required.

For sure, these will be memorable Games but not for the fan experience. The newly refurbished Olympic stadium is a venue with a magnificence that will only partially be reflected in media. Usually, the stands are at capacity and beaming with chant, emotion and overall energy. 

Ultimately, I’m appreciative and thankful for the privileged position, a historical point in time. For me, It’s the people of Tokyo and Japan who I feel the most. It should be their games; they should be here – however, they should be very proud of what their country has produced thus far.