Ten days away from the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, the Brazil Olympic Committee (COB) already has the Tokyo 2020 operation in full swing. With teams spread over eight exclusive bases, in addition to structures set up in the Olympic Village and two satellite villages, Team Brazil will have a record delegation in Japan: 301 athletes, in 35 sports, the highest numbers in the history of the country in an edition held abroad.
In Tokyo, Team Brazil will feature 31 Olympic medalists, 18 of whom will be champions: Arthur Zanetti, from artistic gymnastics; Thiago Braz, from athletics; Rodrigo Pessoa, from equestrian show jumping; Kahena Kunze, Martine Grael, and Robert Scheidt, from sailing; Bruninho, Douglas Souza, Fernanda Garay, Lucão, Lucarelli, Maurício Borges, Maurício Souza, Natália, Tandara, and Wallace, from volleyball; Alison and Bruno Schmidt, from beach volleyball.
“We have been planning the Mission for the Tokyo Games for years. The time difference and eating habits were a big challenge, but we didn't even imagine we would have an even bigger challenge with the pandemic. It's important to have athletes performing at their best, but having them safe is essential,” says Marco La Porta, COB vice president and Head of Mission in Tokyo. “In the past, we arrived at the Games with five to seven modalities with medal chances. Today, we are past ten. We are looking forward to seeing our athletes achieve their best performances during the Olympic Games”, adds La Porta about the prospects for results in the Games.
The Brazilian team will consist of 161 men (53.5%) and 140 women (46.5%). This count does not include the 18 “alternate” athletes, denomination of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for eventual substitutes in specific sports. On the other hand, 174 athletes will make their debut in the largest multisport event in the world.
In all, 79 athletes are already in Japan until the end of this Tuesday. They are part of the following sports: canoe slalom, sailing, judo, rugby, boxing, beach volleyball, swimming, table tennis, and men's handball. Over the next two days, another 50 athletes, from women's handball and volleyball, are expected to arrive on July 14th; and taekwondo, equestrian dressage, and part of the judo team, on the 15th.
“Of the 50 modalities in dispute, we ranked in 35 (70%). It's a significant number. We have a quality delegation, with athletes who have achieved expressive results in recent years and will do their best to bring joy and pride to the Brazilian people. That's one of our goals here. More than bringing medals, bring joy to everyone who follows us. We came here to seek the best sporting representation for our country”, explains Jorge Bichara, COB Sports Director.
The opening of the Olympic Village also marked Tuesday. Team Brazil officials are already at the site taking care of the last details before the arrival of the Brazilian athletes. João Victor Oliva, from equestrian dressage, will be the first to visit the place on Thursday. The canoeist Ana Sátila was the first to land in the country a week ago.
“The walk was very challenging for the athletes. At the beginning of the pandemic, we were unable to train and went through many difficulties. So, it was a great happiness to be able to enter Japan after all that and also special to be the first to arrive here”, said Ana Sátila, who participates in the Games for the third time in her career.
Strict protocols against COVID-19 – From the athletes' departure in Brazil until they arrive in Japan, the COB has been putting into practice all the planning established against COVID-19 contagion. Brazilian athletes are being tested daily and follow strict safety protocols against the virus. “Of our 301 athletes, 271 were vaccinated with the first dose and 226 with the second dose, that is, 75% of our delegation is vaccinated. This brings us much safety. In addition to all the protective material, the COB brought 6,000 antigen tests to Japan. We are using these tests on people who come close to our delegation, such as our drivers and catering staff, for example”, said Dr Ana Carolina Corte, medical services coordinator at COB.
These same protocols were reinforced at the hotel where six Olympic judo athletes are staying in Hamamatsu, where five employees tested positive before the arrival of the Brazilian team at the hotel. None of these employees had contact with Brazilian athletes. “The delegation uses its own elevator at the hotel, we wear N95 masks, hand hygiene at all times, meals in an exclusive location, and daily testing of everyone in the hotel and our delegation. All of this will help us to monitor our athletes and ensure their health”, said Dr. Ana Corte, also informing that the five employees were immediately isolated, including people who had close contact and were monitored regularly.