Get your news fix on happenings outside the pool with the latest ‘Beyond the Lane Lines.’ With each edition, we collect personal stories, little known facts, and general items of interest from around the world. Read on and learn something new this week.
#1 Swim Instructor Coronavirus Protective Mask Developed
Although some pools are starting to reopen around the world as the coronavirus (COVID-19) curve appears to be flattening, those that do pick back up operations will need to do so with revised guidelines. These range by country, state, etc. but incorporate heightened cleaning and sanitization measures, along with enforcing social distancing protocols.
In Japan, the owner of Rockin’ Pool, a swim-related event planning company, has created a special mask aimed at shielding swim instructors from possible coronavirus contamination. Junya Nishikawa‘s mask invention is made of vinyl and allows air to enter under the chin, enabling the wearer to breathe even when wet.
The mask is aimed at not only physically stopping viral contamination from student to teacher, but to also provide peace of mind to young swimmers and their families as they head back to swim lessons.
You can view the mask and how it is created below.
#2 Some Official Olympic Merchandise Shops Closing
By early June, five official Olympic merchandise shops located in host city Tokyo, Japan, will be closing. Hurt by the coronavirus pandemic combined with the delay of the next Summer Olympic Games themselves to July 2021, the store’s closures are seen as a cost-savings measure. It is not clear if the stores will reopen or not.
Tokyo Organizing Committee representative Masa Takaya said, “We don’t know what’s going to happen in the next three weeks. So in that respect, I cannot precisely confirm how many shops will remain after the closure of these shops.” (USA Today)
#3 Shinri Shioura Gives Candid Interview
28-year-old Shinri Shioura was ready to make his mark on the 2020 Olympic Games, roaring into the Japanese Olympic Trials as the reigning national record holder in the 50m freestyle. Shioura notched a speedy time of 21.67 in April of 2019 to reclaim his national mark taken by Katsumi Nakamura and throw his name into the ring for Olympic Games qualification.
This was after Shioura spent several weeks in and out of the hospital in late 2018 due to complications with tonsilitis. In a recent interview with Real Sports Japan, the sprint ace discloses that he actually thought about giving up on swimming several times over the course of his career. The most recent bout with possibly saying goodbye came after the hospitalization that rendered him out of that year’s Short Course World Championships.
But the man fought back in the form of his fastest 50m freestyle time ever to earn his spot on Japan’s 2019 FINA World Aquatic Championships. That led to his being the first man of his nation to make it to a 50m free World Championships final since 2001. He talks about that feat, regrets of the 2012 Olympic Games, and more in the interview you can read in its entirety here.
#4 Tokyo Olympic Torch Relay May Be Shortened
Sankei News is reporting that 2020 Olympic Games organizers are considering shortening the Olympic Torch Relay in light of both the coronavirus pandemic and the delay of the Games themselves to July 2021.
Slated to officially kick-off on March 26th of this year and run through all 47 Japanese prefectures, the torch relay may now take place in different locations simultaneously. Over 10,000 runners were set to take the torch around the nation in 121 days, but costs and infectious disease measures are cited as reasons for possibly revising the torch relay plans.
Organizers simply state at this time, “The schedule reduction plan is one of all possibilities.”
The Tokyo Game Show TGS 2020 has been canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Originally scheduled to take place September 24th-27th at the Makuhari Messe convention center just outside Tokyo, the annual event showcases Japanese video games set to be released in the near future. This is the first time that the TGS has ever been canceled since its first edition in 1996.
“Due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on a global scale and the situation remains unpredictable in Japan as well, the organizer and the co-organizers have reached [this] decision after a long consideration to place the utmost priority on the health and safety of visitors, exhibitors and stakeholders,” the organizers said in a statement.