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Hotels in Tokyo are having difficulty welcoming foreign officials and media staffers visiting the capital for the Olympics under the spirit of omotenashi (hospitality), as they have to provide separate routes for them from those for other customers as part of COVID-19 measures.

With some from abroad having broken rules limiting their activities and hit the streets of Tokyo, the Olympic organizing committee has shown its willingness to issue punishments.

According to the Tokyo Games playbook, athletes and others visiting for the Games are not allowed to use public transport, walk around the city or eat out during the 14 days after their arrival. They are urged to use special buses and have meals at related facilities at competition venues and hotel restaurants or by using food delivery services. Violators will be hit with penalties.

About 400 people related to the Olympics and some 10 other guests are staying at a hotel in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward. The hotel’s manager said that all guests share the same entrance to the breakfast venue, and partitions are set up around each table. But he said, “It is difficult for the hotel to separate elevators.”

Security guards sent by the organizing committee check the guests’ moves, but they do not accompany them on their outings.

People gather at a facility in Tokyo's Koto Ward on July 22 to take part in a tour for foreign reporters. | KYODO
People gather at a facility in Tokyo’s Koto Ward on July 22 to take part in a tour for foreign reporters. | KYODO

The manager of a hotel in Shibuya Ward said, “We had provided foreign guests with information about nearby shops before (the coronavirus pandemic), but we now do nothing for Olympics-related people from overseas after they check in.”

A technician from Spain who was waiting for a bus for Olympics-related individuals in Chuo Ward said that he knows the activity rules and that he is staying at his hotel room.

A man working for a French media organization who was shopping at a convenience store said that it is impossible to confine himself to his hotel room although he arrived in Japan less than 14 days ago.

On Saturday, Masanori Takaya, spokesperson of the organizing committee, revealed that the organizers had on Friday taken away the Tokyo Games identification card of a person staying at the athletes village after they went sightseeing.

Teimuraz Lezhava, Georgia’s charge d’affaires in Japan, admitted in a Twitter post that an Olympic athlete from his country who was staying in the Olympic Village had gone sightseeing. The diplomat offered an apology for the incident. The athlete has already left Japan.

Takaya said leaving the athletes village for sightseeing is “absolutely impermissible.”

This was the first case of someone being stripped of their Olympics ID card since the Tokyo Games started.

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