The Olympic Games are here and I am so excited to be able to attend the games in person. Here's some of my experience of the long day of travel to Tokyo. Current photo via Jack Spitser/Spitser Photography
Well, after a full year of delay, it has finally come! The Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games are here and I am so honored and excited to be able to attend the games in person, shooting for SwimSwam. The process of getting from the airport in Los Angeles to my hotel in Tokyo with all my valid credentials and photo vests was not an easy one, and I wanted to walk you all through my full day of 24 sleepless hours, including 8 hours in the Tokyo Narita airport.
Thankfully, Canon has supplied me with some awesome gear for the games.
I then packed up my suitcases and headed to LAX.
The process just for getting to board the flight to Tokyo was not an easy one. Countless paperwork, overly expensive COVID tests and 14 day activity plans were only some of the requirements needed to get into Tokyo. We needed two separate COVID tests within 96 and 72 hours of our flight. However, our tests needed to specifically have “nasopharyngeal swab” as the test method, not nasal, as most tests say. I called dozens of COVID test suppliers across SoCal and all listed nasal as the method. Finally, I was able to find a place that happened to also be where the USA Surf Team got their tests, so they were experienced in the Japan Covid requirements, which also included a specific certificate, signed by the doctor with a seal of approval. The catch? The tests were $500 each. $350 for the test, and $150 for the certificate. And we needed two of them. As this was the only option to get the proper test, and since I wanted to ensure that I made it onto the plane, I went ahead with the tests.
After security, the airport was fairly empty. I was on a 777 Jet (a.k.a. HUGE) and there was 16 total passengers on the plane. There was as many flight attendants as passengers.
After the 11 hour flight, we first were sent to validate our paperwork, which was about an hour of waiting and providing our passport, accreditation card and proof of COVID tests.
Following that, we were sent to COVID testing, where we had to provide a saliva test, and then sit in quarantine for 3 hours.
Following the quarantine, we were sent across the airport to get our credentials, and it finally started to feel a little like Tokyo.
Getting the credential was the best part, making it official that I was able to photograph at the Games.
We then went to immigration, and got on a bus that took us to a spot where we took a taxi to our hotel.
However, there was a very long line to get the taxi to the hotel, adding even more time to the long day of waiting.
Finally I was able to arrive at my hotel at 11pm Tokyo time, and almost 24 hours after the time that I left Los Angeles.
This morning I took the media bus to the MPC (main press centre) to get my tickets for the Opening Ceremony and the finals sessions of swimming, as those are high demand and you need to have tickets in addition to a credential to get in.
The amount of paperwork to get here was pretty crazy.
I am now back at the hotel charging up the cameras, ready to head over to the Stadium for the Ceremony.
Thanks for following along, and I can’t wait to share images and stories from the next 10 days.
Jack Spitser is a San Diego based photographer and entrepreneur who swam for UC San Diego under Olympic coach David Marsh and current coach Marko Djordjevic. He graduated in 2020, and ended his collegiate swimming career at the NCAA D2 Championships in March. Working for years as both a businessman …