Imagine being an Olympic athlete today. First, the event that you've been working towards for pretty much your whole life, with all the sacrifice that entails, has been delayed by a year and still isn't guaranteed to happen in 2021. And then, even if it does go ahead, it won't be the same as usual: no mixing in the Olympic village, no fans from back home cheering you on, and oh, if you fail a Covid test at any time you're out of here.
No wonder then that more so than ever, officials are worried about how athletes' mental health will hold up under such trying conditions.
In order to mitigate the risk, the British Olympic Association (BOA) has assembled a team of ten mental health specialists who will monitor British athletes for signs of anxiety and stress.
'We already took mental health very seriously but we recognise such [mental health] issues have never been more acute in everyday life,' the BOA said. 'This mental health team is part of our preparation for what will be a very different Olympic Games.'
As well as looking after athletes' mental health, the BOA and International Olympic Committee (IOC) have also taken steps to ensure the chances of an athlete catching Covid-19 remain slim.
The BOA has already confirmed all Team GB athletes and support staff will be fully vaccinated before departing for Tokyo, thanks to an agreement between the IOC and Pfizer BioNtech, while the IOC has also said that it expects more than 80% of Games participants to be vaccinated by the time the event begins on July 23.
But despite Team GB and the IOC's vaccination drive, it still won't be business as usual in the Olympic village, which is usually a hive of activity where athletes from 206 countries come together to mix and share the experience.
At this summer's Games, athletes will be required to spend long periods of time in their rooms and avoid mixing with others. Mealtimes will also be kept as brief as possible, with The Times reporting that athletes will be instructed to remain two metres apart and vacate the area as soon as they're finished eating.
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