Eating at the Tokyo Olympics: Athletes give look at strict protocol, food inside Olympic Village dining halls

Japan 2020

Athletes and officials at the Olympic Village’s dining halls are encouraged to “keep mealtimes as short as possible and leave as soon as they have finished eating,” according to a Playbook distributed by the IOC. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

(NEXSTAR) – The rules for dining in the Olympic Village might be stricter than those of the events.

The International Olympic Committee’s official “playbook” for keeping athletes and officials safe at the Tokyo Summer Games includes a laundry list of do’s and don’ts for eating at the village’s main dining halls. Most of the precautions appears similar to those implemented in the U.S. near the height of the pandemic — seating capacities, the absence of physical menus, mandatory masks when not actively eating, etc. — but some go even further, according to the IOC’s guidelines.

Athletes and officials at the Olympic and Paralympic Village’s dining halls are encouraged to “keep mealtimes as short as possible and leave as soon as they have finished eating,” according to a Playbook distributed by the IOC. If not competing that day, athletes and team officials should also aim to “adjust” their dining schedules to avoid busier times.

Games participants will be asked to disinfect their hands upon entering and exiting the dining halls, as well. When waiting in line at meal stations, diners are also instructed to remain 1 meter away from the person directly in front of them — or 2 meters, for athletes.

After eating, participants are required to use sanitizing wipes to clean off their tabletop and seats before leaving.

The International Olympic Committee’s official “playbook” for keeping athletes and officials safe at the Tokyo Summer Games includes a laundry list of do’s and don’ts for eating at the village’s main dining halls. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Videos shared by a few of the athletes, however, suggest that additional safety precautions have been put into place in at least one of the dining halls, and even by the athletes themselves. Australian Olympian Tilly Kearns, a water polo player, took to social media to give a behind-the-scenes look at mealtime.

“This is how we keep COVID-safe in the Olympic dining hall,” Kearns explains in a TikTok video shared earlier this week.

As seen in Kearns’ post, athletes sanitize their hands and put on disposable gloves before “touching anything” inside the dining hall. She and her teammates then grab their trays and get food from their chosen stations before settling down at their table, which has a plexiglass divider separating each diner.

The divider “makes mealtime conversations pretty difficult, because it’s hard to hear through them, but it keeps us safe,” she says.

Each teammate then disinfects their “little cubicle” with a sanitizing wipe before eating. Kearns added that her team also has a rule that “once the mask if off, we only have 10 minutes to eat” to reduce their chances of exposure. Finally, they all put on fresh masks and head back to the disinfectant station before leaving.

Team USA volleyball player Erik Shoji has also been sharing videos from inside both the “main” and “casual” dining halls in the Olympic Village, both of which appear to have similar barriers and physical distancing between diners. Shoji’s posts, however, are more concerned with rating and reviewing the Japanese fare offered at the dining stations — all of which he seemed to heartily enjoy.

“This food is so good,” he claimed, giving a special shoutout to the “bomb” gyoza.

While the rules for diners in the Olympic Village are strict, at least they allow for athletes to eat with their teams and coaches. Participants staying outside of the Olympic Village are instead urged to “eat alone as much as possible” and “especially avoid” eating with any Japanese residents, or other athletes who have been in Japan for more than two weeks, according to the Playbook.

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