Finding alternative transportation for members of the "high number of accredited press" not staying at official Tokyo 2020 hotels is a key challenge for organisers of this summer’s re-scheduled Games following the likely ruling that public transport will not be available to them.
Speaking at today’s virtual briefing for media stakeholders at the Games, which sought to offer clarification on points included in the "playbook" of proposed COVID pandemic-related safety measures released earlier this month, the International Olympic Committee's head of media operations Lucia Montanarella commented:
"We are really working with Press Operation and Transport in Tokyo on the issue of people who have not booked their accommodation through Tokyo 2020.
"So we know there is a high number of accredited press who are staying in different locations.
"We are discussing right now how to cover this gap, meaning that we are fully aware that if access to public transport is not there, we need to have an alternative for these people to move around.
"One thing that is very important is that for those who are not staying in media hotels it would be recommended that you inform Press Operations of where you are staying because then we will understand how we can provide some additional services.
"Also the structure of the media transport in Tokyo is such that there are meeting points that are grouping some media hotels.
"With some luck your accommodation might be quite close to one of these points and you can be fully using the media transport system…
"The challenge now is finding solutions for some level of transport for people who have not chosen to stay in official media hotels."
Pierre Ducroy, the Olympic Games operations director, added: "We understand the language in the playbook right now is not giving you the answer you want.
"We are discussing with the Government regarding access to public transport to make sure that if there is a decision from the Government that this has to be restricted then we want to have alternative plans which we are working through right now with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee.
"We do not have yet a confirmation if some portion of the population may be or may not be allowed to travel on public transport."
Current instructions to press maintain will be prevented from using public transport "unless given permission".
Further information on this area is expected in the lead-up to the next edition of updates to the playbook that is due to be publicised in April.
Asked about who would pay the costs of the COVID-19 testing required by media and other stakeholders before and after their arrival in Japan, Tokyo 2020 Games delivery officer Hide Nakamura responded:
"Upon entry to Japan, under domestic rules, necessary tests have to be conducted, and if they are necessary the Japanese authorities will look after the cost.
"Anything additional, that will be something that we will have to consult over.
"But the test 72-hours before your coming into to Japan - that test is something you will have to cover the cost of yourself."
The press - like athletes and International Federation and technical officials - have also been banned from visiting tourist areas, shops, restaurant or bars and gyms.
Asked how journalists not in official media hotels could access food in these circumstances, Nakamura responded that further clarification would be available by April.
Acknowledging that it was an "important" and "difficult" issue, he added:
"Our current thinking is that rather than eating in restaurants there will be less contact, so I think it is possible for securing food and eating fast food.
"But we will sort out the factors with the Government and will have conclusions by April.
"This is not just applicable to press people, but all stakeholders."
Explaining the requirement for media members to fill in an activity plan for their first 14 days in Japan, Ducroy said the measure "explains precisely for the needs of your job where you need to go.
"So it is not a quarantine, it’s simply a way to monitor the activities that you will be doing in that window, that they are strictly focused on your professional duties."
"The principles of the playbook do not stop at the end of the activity plan.”
It was confirmed that even if media members arriving in Japan have had COVID-19 vaccinations, the playbook rules "will still be applicable" to them.