The Australian softball team left for Japan on Monday. There, they will become the first competitors to reach the Tokyo Olympics, where the coronavirus will be played. The arrival of a team of 23 “Aussie Spirit” players on Tuesday is a milestone for the Tokyo 2020 Games. They were delayed for a year as a result of the pandemic and suffered from fears of viruses. Management and support staff have taken a number of Covid-19 precautions including vaccinations and rapid PCR tests, 72 hours before leaving Sydney.
“We know it’s going to be a long journey, we’re going to go through a lot of Covid tests,” said player Jade Wall as he prepares to leave the team wearing the mask.
“But look, we’re all ready for that. We want to do everything we can to make sure we’re safe when we get there and that we’re safe even while we’re in Japan.”
Despite polls showing public opinion against organizing the Olympics this summer, organizers are happy that they will move forward.
Australian Softball CEO David Pryles said it was a “tremendous” moment for the team as the Olympic preparations interrupted the pandemic.
“We haven’t played together since February 2020, the Australian Pacific Cup final in Sydney, so it was always necessary to go early to get the necessary matches in the team,” he told AFP.
They will be located in the city of Ota, Tokyo, where they will live in the “Bubble” group to minimize the risk of coronavirus infection.
Several places in Japan, including Tokyo, are in a state of emergency to deal with the fourth wave of infections by July 23 until almost a month ago.
‘A dream for life’
Despite the risk of the virus, Pryles said all players are eager to travel to Japan and will receive great support on the ground.
“The only reason to leave the hotel is to go back and forth to the pelota court. They will have less of a daily relationship with people than they do in Australia,” he said.
Softball has not appeared in the Games since 2008 and will not be played in Paris in 2024, making Tokyo the only Olympic glory shot for many players.
“This is his lifelong dream … and I’m really proud of all the effort he’s put into getting there,” Pryles said. “These girls have sacrificed a lot.”
Australia have won medals in every Olympic softball competition and are expected to maintain their mark.
Wall said the team was “hungry” for success and did not rely on the unusual conditions it faced.
“We know we have a goal in mind, and they’re all on board,” he told Reporters at Sydney Airport.
The team will play a number of warm-ups against the Japanese opposition, before reducing the team to 15, opening a campaign against the hosts on July 21.
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