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Canadian Olympic athletes slowly arriving to Tokyo games amid COVID-19

Last Updated Jul 17, 2021 at 1:02 pm PDT

People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walk under the banner of Tokyo Olympics at the street in Tokyo, Wednesday, June 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Japan is welcoming Canadian athletes ahead of the Olympics next week

Canadian athletes are being screened for COVID-19 as soon as they fly in

TOKYO (NEWS 1130) — Canadian athletes are starting to arrive in Japan ahead of the Olympics next week, but NEWS 1130 is hearing the process to get settled is quite the task due to COVID-19.

Lucas Van Berkel plays for the Canadian men’s volleyball team and says the team’s travel day is much longer than previous years.

“We arrived probably around 12, or 1 o’clock in the afternoon. And we had to do about like four to five hours of testing, going through specific stations where we have to check our credentials, symptoms and everything … we ended up leaving I would say between five to six hours after we landed,” he explains.

Luckily everyone tested negative, but on top of the long check-in, the team had to drive out another six to seven hours to the town hosting them in Northern Japan.

“The whole town is pretty much welcoming. So there’s like a bunch of Canadian flags on apartments, Volleyball Canada signs everywhere and stuff. So it’s been pretty cool.”

Now that the team’s also finished their three-day quarantine, they’re still not allowed to explore Japan.

Berkel adds, thankfully, the hotel has its own volleyball court.

“It’s a full-size court, full proper flooring … which has been really cool. I haven’t seen anything like that.”

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A meal service program is also provided to the Olympic athletes at their hotel as well.

“We just pretty much isolated in here,” he says. ” They’ve made it work for us really well. They’ve gone beyond their measures to a couple, so it’s not too bad, but it’s definitely been a different experience so I’ve heard compared to other Olympics.”

Berkel and the rest of his teammates will head into the city Tuesday ahead of the summer games’ opening day, which is Friday.

“I think everyone’s just really excited to get the games going … we’re feeling really well heading into the tournament. We’re already starting preparations on our especially our first game against Italy,” Berkel says.

“It’s been a long time coming with the extra year that we’ve had to wait for this after qualifying. So we’re just super pumped and excited to get this going.

“The excitement juices are flowing right now,” she says.