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Daily Diary From Tokyo: Opening Ceremony

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No rest for the wicked! Or just reporters covering the Paralympic Games. 

With 29 athletes competing in Tokyo, our jet-lagged minds went straight to work planning the week ahead. Which athletes will we follow? What venues need to be booked? What time do buses leave? 

The Media Press Centre (MPC) is sprawled across the Tokyo International Exhibition Centre, more commonly known as Tokyo Big Sight. And it is a sight to behold! For a reporter, it’s a dream location with information, transport, food, and PCR tests all located at your fingertips. For the Team Ireland media, it’s even better considering it is around the corner from our hotel. 

After a much needed night’s sleep and a breakfast buffet that ranged from broccoli to pastries, the morning was spent in the MPC filling out forms and drinking it all in. To a certain extent, you feel detached in there. Screens show Olympic coverage on repeat (until the Paralympic action begins) while journalists have their heads stuck in a laptop. Just your average press room. 

The only indication that you are at the centre of one of the biggest sporting events of the year is the wide range of jerseys surrounding you, journalists from all over the world decked out in their country’s colours. 

A trip to the Tokyo Equestrian Park to scout out the venue was a welcome relief from the intensity of the media centre. Not only that but it provided us with a rare chance to see Tokyo city from inside a taxi and we couldn’t help but marvel at the utopian feel to it all. Even though it was still being set up, just seeing the branding lining the Equestrian Park was enough to give me butterflies and a timely reminder that the competitions begin in less than 24 hours. 

But that feeling was nothing compared to seeing the Olympic Stadium for the first time, the site of the Opening Ceremony. It’s hard to describe what it was like inside the stadium. It’s what I imagine you’d get if you mixed the World Cup and the Eurovision together. 

I’m not going to pretend that the experience wasn’t dampened by the loss of a crowd but it was genuinely an honour to be there. (Especially given that our journey to the venue may have included a panicked last minute taxi journey, a tense negotiation to get through closed streets and a police escort into the stadium).

Ireland were third out behind the Refugee team and Iceland and led by Britney Arendse and Jordan Lee, our small representation once again did the country proud as they bowed to the nation who have hosted us so graciously. I decided to put my phone away at this stage and just enjoy the moment as the Ireland team did their lap around the stadium. It may very well be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

As they often say, the formalities are over and now it’s time to get down to the action. So it’s back to the aforementioned planning. Short of knowing how to get to venues and what events I’m attending, I have no idea what to expect from the next stage of the Games. If the past two days have taught me anything, no amount of planning can prepare you for something like this. 

But isn’t that half the fun?

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Author: Marisa Kennedy

Marisa is a Digital Journalist with Pundit Arena. You can contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter