Justin Gatlin says he felt “beyond safe” while competing at an Olympic test event at the athletics stadium which will host the Tokyo Games.
The ‘Ready Steady Tokyo’ test event was put on without spectators, after Japan’s capital extended its coronavirus state of emergency until at least the end of May.
Gatlin was one of 420 athletes who took part in the event, with nine coming from overseas. The US sprinter, who won Olympic gold in 2004 and silver at Rio 2016, eased to a comfortable 100m victory having been subject to strict measures after arriving in the country.
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"I felt beyond safe," said Gatlin, who admits some athletes will not be too keen on what they will be subject to.
The bubble has been very successful. I think this competition was a precursor to see exactly how the Olympics can go off, maintaining a bubble for the athletes to be able to stay healthy, and also the citizens of Japan to be able to stay healthy with foreign athletes coming into the country.
“The only time I've ever seen the outside is when we get on the bus to go to the track. We work out then we go back to the hotel.
We don't even eat in a cafeteria or a meeting ground, we take our food to our room and we eat in our room.
"I know a lot of athletes are not going to be happy with this but the measures are in place to keep everyone safe, I think it's working."
No positive tests were recorded by the athletes, and although Gatlin said he missed going out to eat, he said he was able to “relax and chill” by watching TV.
With two and a half months to go until the Games begin, World Athletics president Lord Sebastian Coe praised the success of the event but stressed his organisation, and other sports, are well aware of the sensitivities of holding the Olympics and Paralympics during a global pandemic.
“We are very empathetic to the need to be fully recognising that communities around the world are inevitably nervous about many things related to Covid,” said Coe.
“We take those concerns very, very seriously. The Covid protocols, particularly that World Athletics have developed over the last year and a half by our health and science teams who are extremely good at this, have consistently helped deliver events in a safe and secure environment.”
The opening ceremony of the Olympics is due to take place on July 23.
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