Spartan conditions for Romanian Olympians: No stepping out other than to training venues

The Romanian athletes participating in the Tokyo Olympics are treated to spartan conditions in the Matsudo pre-Olympic camp, where they have to observe a total quarantine and strictly follow the organizers' Covid-19 rules. "We arrived in Matsudo around midnight, after a stopover in Istanbul and another 11 hours of flight. When we got here we had a bit of a shock, because the rules of the Japanese government are very, very strict. We are only allowed to move on two building floors, the 4th and the 5th, and we can only use the service stairs, the elevator and the main stairs are for others to use and we are not allowed to get in contact with anyone at all. We spend our entire time in the room or at the training venue, that's all. We are not allowed at the shop, we're not allowed to take a walk, we're not allowed to relax outside, absolutely nothing. Everything is very strict. We permanently have those two tracking and health monitoring phone apps, it's completely different from what I've known. It's full-on quarantine," long jumper Alina Rotaru told AGERPRES. The journey to the pre-Olympic camp in Matsudo, a small city with a roughly 500,000 population near Tokyo, was also quite difficult as the second group of the Romanian Olympic delegation, which left on July 16, had to pass through several control filters on the Japanese airport before being given the green light. "I felt honored, both I and my coach, that we set off from the Official Hall of the 'Henri Coanda' Airport in Bucharest, and I want to thank the Romanian Olympic Sports Committee for this. We flew Bucharest - Istanbul, with a short stopover of two hours and something; then we were lucky enough to board a new plane, a Dreamliner, for an 11-hour flight. When we arrived in Japan, a mini-marathon began with 5-6 successive stops, we had our two health monitoring phone apps checked. It's like a visa, with many QR codes that had to be scanned, and before we got to the visa desk we had to take a saliva test, because testing here is not by swabbing, like in Europe. Only when I received the accreditation did I realize that I had finally reached the Olympic Games. After the Romanian delegation received the test results, which were all negative, some of us were able to go to the Olympic Village, and we, the track and fielders headed for the pre-Olympic camp in Matsudo city, where we arrived at midnight," the sportswoman relates. Alina Rotaru says that the hotel staff are very kind to the athletes, but at the same time strict regarding the observance of the rules imposed by the authorities: "The people here are very nice and try to please us, but the rules come from high above, from the Japanese government, and don't depend on them. They must be observed, we have to obey, even if they treat us very well. They apologize all the time, you know how the Japanese are... we realize it's not their fault, they just have to comply with what they have been instructed. We'll stay here until July 25, when we'll go to the Olympic Village. We'll see what the rules will be there. The room is very small, but that doesn't matter anymore. We've got two rooms, one for luggage and one to sleep in. Otherwise it's total quarantine, just training and back." The way Romanian athletes serve their meals is totally different from what they were used to, they receive breakfast, lunch and dinner in meal boxes and eat in their rooms: "Breakfast, lunch and dinner are brought to us in boxes we have to take to the room and eat there. It's completely different, but these are the rules, they are for everyone and we must respect them. The food is good, tasty, and you have where to choose from, even if we are not accustomed with these dishes." Regarding training conditions, Rotaru says they are very good and that she adjusted very quickly to the time zone difference. "The good part is that we have very good training conditions. I have adjusted very well, very quickly, although so far I have never been in quarantine. It's a first for me. I had no problems with the time difference either. We'll see how it will be later, so far it's OK," added the sportswoman. The rules imposed by the Japanese authorities must be followed by absolutely all athletes, even if some delegations enjoy a small advantage as their members are allowed to walk a stretch of 100 meters. "I spoke to another long jump competitor from the UK who also arrived in Japan. She is in another city, in a pre-Olympic camp, and the rules are the same as for us, they are only allowed to the training site and in the room. Yet unlike us, they also have a dining room, because they rented the entire hotel for their delegation, while we only have two floors, and they are also allowed to walk in front of the hotel on a distance of 100 meters, no more, for an hour," Alina Rotaru also said. Marius Cocioran, who will compete in the men's 50-km race walk, told AGERPRES that in addition to the tough accommodation requirements, Romanian athletes also face excessive heat and oppressive humidity. "We arrived well, everything is OK, although it's a little harder because we are not allowed to go anywhere except for training. No exception is made. And another problem is the very hot and humid weather. Competing will be more difficult than usual. Now I don't know exactly how it will feel at 5:30 in the morning when I'll take the start. Maybe it will be a little better in Sapporo," Cocioran said. Alina Rotaru says that unlike athletes who will arrive in Japan later, she will have time to adjust to the intense heat and humidity: "It's very hot and humid. I think it will be more difficult for those who will fly in to Japan just a few days before their competitions. I for myself have enough time to adjust." The students of the Matsudo school surprised the Romanian athletes on Tuesday morning before the daily training session with a one-hour welcome show of traditional drums and a high school marching band and cheerleading performance. ''They are doing everything to make us feel good in their country, and their efforts are worth appreciation. They really want us to feel good here, it's flattering. If it weren't for this pandemic ...," Alina Rotaru also said. Romania will be represented at the Tokyo Olympics athletics competitions by Florentina Costina Iusco, Alina Rotaru (women's long jump), Claudia Mihaela Bobocea (women's 1,500 m run), Daniela Stanciu (women's high jump), Alin Alexandru Firfirica (men's discus throw), Marius Iulian Cocioran (men's 50-km race walk), Rares Andrei Toader (men's weight throw), Bianca Florentina Ghelber (women's hammer throw), Andrea Miklos (women's 400m dash), and Mihaita Alexandru Novac (men's javelin throw). The Romanian full Olympic lineup includes 101 athletes - 46 women and 55 men - who will compete in 17 sports: swimming, athletics, rowing, football, artistic gymnastics, 3x3 basketball, cycling, wrestling, shooting, canoeing, table tennis, boxing, fencing, triathlon, judo, archery and tennis. AGERPRES (RO - author: Adrian Tone, editor: Mihai Tenea; EN - editor: Simona Klodnischi)

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