The clock is ticking, the countdown to Tokyo is running. However, with less than 100 days to go before the Tokyo 2021 Olympics start, there is still no clear information under which regulations the work for the media will take place.
As those of you who hold an accreditation for Tokyo 2021 know there will be a second Playbook coming out before the end of April. This will summarize the guidelines under which we can work in Japan. What we know so far is that, due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, these Games will be different. Absolutely different.
In order to find out what we can do to try and ensure that all equestrian media have the best working conditions possible, we discussed in an IAEJ board meeting that we create an Olympic Media Working Group. Since then Kim Lundin, Jon Stroud and Jan Toenjes have had talks with several stakeholders, attended web conferences and had several constructive meetings with the FEI, which is in direct discussions with both the IOC and the Tokyo Organising Committee.
So far we cannot precisely say what our workdays will look like in Tokyo. But what we know for sure is that there is a daily booking system for all venues (not just Equestrian) and that the potential for someone being refused access to a venue is high due to the reduction in capacity (potentially as much as 50%) for all media areas – Venue Media Centres, Photo Positions and Tribune Seating, but not the Main Press Centre (MPC).
The current situation – and hopefully there will be greater clarification in the next edition of the Playbook – means that access to a venue is only granted on a daily basis, and this applies for all sports, all venues and all media.
There will be high pressure days when there is a greater demand for access to the equestrian venue, particularly the medal days, and there is a requirement for the photo and news agencies to have access, which means that there is a reduction of available spaces.
There are a couple of other matters the working group is currently discussing with several stakeholders involved in the Games. Among these topics are individual transportation concepts (car/van hire, bicycles) to facilitate on-time access to training sessions and course inspections.
Good working conditions with access to the venues on days with activity, be it competition or training, arena familiarisation or horse inspections, is what we are fighting for, together with the FEI.
What we do know is that our sport has very high numbers of specialist E-accreditations (both photographers and written media). The criteria that will be used to decide who will be granted venue access and who – potentially – will not is still unclear. Nor is it established who will be making those decisions.
All of you who are accredited for Tokyo will have received from the Tokyo Organisers the list of meeting points and also an accommodation questionnaire. If you are accommodated somewhere that is not near either the MPC or one of the meeting points, you will need to find alternative accommodation with the help of the Tokyo Organisers or, potentially, reconsider whether or not to travel as there will be many challenges to overcome, not just venue access.
The Covid-19 countermeasures that have to be in place for the safety of everyone in Japan are complicated, but absolutely crucial for the Games to go ahead.
We will continue our talks on your behalf and will of course keep you updated, but rest assured we – together with the FEI – are fighting for the best outcome in the current very uncertain circumstances.
We will keep you updated, take care.
On behalf of the IAEJ Board
Jan Tönjes, Jon Stroud and Kim Lundin