After being postponed for one year due to COVID-19, Tokyo 2020 finally took place from July to August 2021. Just like the Olympics, Indonesia is also preparing itself for National Sports Week (PON) 2020 in its easternmost province Papua. With 6,484 athletes and 37 sports set to compete in October, what are some of the most important aspects that organisers need to have in order to decrease the possibility of creating yet another COVID cluster?
''Tokyo 2020 proves that sporting events can be hosted in the middle of a pandemic, but of course with strict health protocol and preparedness,'' says Bagus Priambodo Indrojatmiko of tvOne. Before departing to Japan, all foreign journalists must complete a once-a-day Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing for seven days in their own country. They were required to do another PCR upon arrival, and it continued for another 14 days. Another PCR was also mandated before leaving the country.
''We also had to download a health tracking app to monitor our condition and to let us know if someone had tested positive for the virus. We were not allowed to use public transportation for the first two weeks,'' he added. The organiser made sure the Olympics bubble would not come in contact with the locals.
At the media centre, where journalists write news, send images or just simply rest, plexiglass is available at every desk. Furniture is also frequently sanitised using disinfectant wipes. No one can grab anything from the snack bar unless they are using plastic gloves. Hand sanitisers and infrared thermographers can be found in all venues.
tvOne's Bagus Priambodo Indrojatmiko in a press conference at Tokyo 2020 (Priv. Doc)
''We had to wear masks and there were so many mask signs. For Indonesia, I think for rules to be enforced, there should always be officers to scold those who are not wearing masks correctly,'' said Dita Alangkara of Associated Press (Indonesia).
For Dita, it is not impossible for face-to-face press events to slowly take place in the country. ''The number of journalists must be limited and they should RSVP. After the maximum number of attendance has been reached, don't allow more journalists to cover the event,'' the Chief Photographer said.
Tips for communications professionals
Dealing with journalists when they have demanding workload can be a headache. Indonesian journalists who covered The Games agree that the communications staff working there were speedy and professional.
''They provided me with information to enhance my reporting, starting from data to the rules of the games,'' said Bagus.
Mast Irham of European Pressphoto Agency (Indonesia) also thought the public relations he met there were helpful, friendly, and well-briefed.
''They were calm, collected, and willing to go the extra mile. They were 'all out' in terms of their professionalism. They really knew what they were doing and when they didn't, they knew where to refer us to. There was very little to no personnel that became overwhelmed while interacting with us, other than because of language barriers,'' Dita said.