Foreign journalists in Tokyo for the Olympics have been jumping on the opportunity to join local tours quietly arranged for them by the organizing committee and the metropolitan government amid COVID-19 restrictions.
The tours are open to journalists and camera operators whose activities will be restricted within 14 days of their arrival in Japan. To avoid contact with the general public, participants are taken on private buses to visit sightseeing and cultural facilities outside of business hours.
The popular programs were planned after the foreign press requested that Olympic organizers provide them with a look into Japan’s situation and culture during their stay, according to a metropolitan government official in charge of the initiative.
A total of 12 tour courses are available, including boat rides to see the athletes village from the water, as well as visits to Hamarikyu Gardens and the National Noh Theater.
The tours go to one location via a round-trip bus from the main press center at the Tokyo Big Sight international convention facility, with a maximum of 20 passengers on each trip. The bus fills up every time, according to the organizers.
As a measure against COVID-19, foreign media members who arrive in Japan to cover the Olympics are currently restricted for 14 days from visiting areas outside of predetermined places such as their hotels, competition venues and the main press center.
In addition to wearing masks and sanitizing hands to prevent infection, participants are asked to keep a distance of 1.5 meters from each other at each tour location.
A television camera operator from New Zealand, who joined a drive-by tour of the iconic Shibuya scramble crossing, said he looked forward to showing his home country the view of an uncrowded Shibuya through his footage.
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