Richards confident Japan can deliver safe, secure GamesSaturday, July 24, 2021
BY IAN BURNETT
Jamaican Ambassador to Japan Shornakay Richards is of the firm belief that the innate resilience of the Japanese people makes them best placed to deliver a safe and secure 2020 Olympic Games under current circumstances.
Richards, who was appointed Ambassador to Japan last September, told the Jamaica Observer in a recent interview that Japan's admirable ability to recover from horrendous setbacks, makes them more than capable of successfully navigating these testing times.
“The Games are being held under unprecedented challenges and to what I know of the Japanese people, who have, I believe, one of the most resilient cultures in history, are best placed than anybody, I think, to deliver these games in a safe and secured environment, along with the IOC (International Olympic Committee), along with the Tokyo Organising Committee, along with the people of Japan,” she said.
Richards added: “They have put together a very comprehensive mechanism for screening, testing, tracing and isolation. It is very rigorous…they have put in place a system prior to your departure, on your arrival and on a daily basis you are tested. In the initial playbook they were testing every four days, but in the last playbook every single day the first thing that you have to do is get tested, and each delegation has a designated COVID liaison officer.”
Richards, who has 27 years in the diplomatic service, having served as deputy ambassador to the United Nations, said she was happy to have been included on a logistics call with members of the Gary Peart-led management team which had travelled to Tokyo ahead of the athletes to pave a smooth path for their transition into the Athletes' Village.
She said she saw first-hand the work being put in by the team to get the Jamaican delegation settled and taken care of in the best possible manner. But with positive COVID-19 cases on the rise, especially inside the village, Ambassador Richards sought to allay any fears, individuals might have.
“I think the methods that are in place are sound and even if anybody were to get infected, because you have the whole issue to contact tracing, you have the activity plans, they know immediately where you were, who you were with and then they have the isolation, so they have put in place different layers to ensure that if someone tests positive then the matter is addressed immediately.
“When you look at the population size and the number of cases, more or less Japan has done relatively well because we have the issue of the Delta variant which is what has impacted the Games, which is why now we are not having spectators. The Government has declared that it's better to be safe than sorry,” she said.
Ambassador Richards, who served as director of the bilateral relations department in the Foreign Ministry before her appointment to Japan, says like Foreign Affairs Minister, Senator Kamina Johnson-Smith, said in February, that the Japanese can deliver a safe, secure and enjoyable Games and that it's up to each individual participant – athletes, officials and media – to also play their part in ensuring that that happens.
Respecting the regulations and guidelines with daily monitoring, keeping the hygiene, doing the social distancing, so persons must be responsible in helping the Japanese Government as they take this very difficult decision during this unprecedented times.
“The opening ceremony is themed United by Emotion and we, the entire global community, [have] been going through this pandemic, but it also shows that solidarity and equal responsibility [are] very important, so while the Japanese people have gone ahead and hosted the Games it is for us the participants who are coming in, at all different levels, to ensure that the Games are safe.
“They have put in rigorous and robust mechanisms, a system to ensure that there is no super spreader and that the residents are also protected, and so, yes, I believe the responsibility is up to us and I know that the Jamaican delegation will adhere to those very strict guidelines and for our part to ensure that we contribute effectively to a safe and secure Games.”
The ambassador further advised the Jamaican delegation: “Keep calm, be positive as you always do, and that will help us to continue to deliver a strong performance. Resilience is something that Jamaica is known for and of course our good spirit, our 'one love'.
“It is sad that we don't have international spectators or even domestic spectators, but within us is the idea of our one love and 'no problem, man'; no matter what circumstances bring we can always beat obstacles with humour, with laughter, with good energy, good vibes and I think we should carry those to the Games with us.”
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