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Clare Warwick has wanted to be an Olympian ever since she attended the Sydney Olympics as a spectator in 2000. Now she might get her chance. The 34-year-old and her teammates in the Australian softball squad touched down in Japan on Tuesday, making them some of the earliest competitors to arrive for the Tokyo Games.

The team’s arrival has been hailed as a major milestone for the Olympics, but it comes as critics call for the cancellation of Games amid Japan’s battle against a stubborn fourth COVID wave. On May 28, the Japanese government extended its COVID-19 state of emergency on Tokyo and several other areas until June 20. (The Olympics are scheduled to start on July 23.) Although new cases have declined in recent weeks, the country of 126 million is still recording around 3,000 cases a day.


Olympic COVID-19 protocols released in April emphasize frequent testing and isolation bubbles for athletes and coaches, if not strict quarantines or vaccinations. Fans from abroad have been banned, and an announcement on whether any Japanese spectators will be allowed is expected late this month.

Who notes the potential problem will come should athletes start complaining that the health safety requirements begin restricting their ability to adequately train and prepare for their competitive events, thus calling into question the integrity of the games and whether some countries have a competitive advantage because they can more easily afford to work around the unique regulations of these games...

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