Matt Barnes’ Olympics 2020 blog: Tested in Tokyo

Japan 2020

Matt Barnes is covering the Olympics for NBC4. He will be providing updates of his experiences in Tokyo.
Olympics 2020

TOKYO, Japan (WCMH) — What a day. Nothing like beginning your day in Los Angeles and ending it in Tokyo.

We began the day around 8:00 a.m., getting one last breakfast with the full team before heading out on our flight. We made it in plenty of time to the airport. In fact, we got to the ANA check-in counter before it even opened! So needless to say, we were in no rush at LAX.

While sitting there waiting for boarding, we found out today was the 35th anniversary of the first LA to Tokyo flight for All Nippon Airways. And now, they are Japan’s largest airline. So with balloons and pictures galore, the employees celebrated both on and off the plane.

The flight was very smooth and maybe 25% full. I had no one in my row, so that made for a pleasant flying experience. I watched a whole season of a Netflix show and the new Space Jam. In all, it was an 11 hour and 20 minute flight. The food served on the plane was good. I had the shrimp curry with rice and the rigatoni bolognese. Oh, and I got maybe 40 minutes of sleep on the plane. (Sleeping on plane is simply not my thing.)

Upon arrival, we knew we would be in for a long process before leaving the airport. And it was long indeed. We got off the plane and waited for 20-30 minutes, then started moving as they checked our negative COVID tests administered in the U.S. and the information we put into the health app mandated by Japan. We then had to stop and do a saliva COVID test. And then the real long wait began.


For nearly 90 minutes, we sat in a room and waited for our results; talk about being nervous. No one wants to get that far and then find out they tested positive. Thankfully, our group did not and we were given our Olympic credentials and off to customs we went. That went smoothly. Picked up our bags and to the shuttles provided by NBC.

Most years, the Olympic media stays in dorm rooms of a sort in a media village. Not this time. We are spread out among 3-4 different hotels and ours is smack dab in the city. My room is on the 32nd floor and the view is remarkable. I have a clear view of the Tokyo Tower. I can’t wait to see it in the daytime. Reminder, we are 13 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

So that’s it. After a long day of travel, it’s time to sleep and prepare for our first work day. I’ll get more into our restrictions and protocols soon and what we are doing in the days leading up to the Opening Ceremony. Until then, sayonara from Tokyo!

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