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BBC Scotland team in Tokyo forced into isolation

Hotel bound: Chris McLaughlin (pic: SNS Group)

BBC Scotland’s staff who are in Tokyo to cover the Olympic Games have been forced into 14 days of self-isolation in their hotel rooms after coming into contact with a passenger on their flight who tested positive for Covid-19.

The Games begin at the weekend and close on 8 August which means the BBC Scotland staff will be directly involved for only five days of the event.

Chris McLaughlin, a sports news correspondent at Pacific Quay in Glasgow, tweeted that he was “hugely frustrated” and said the three BBC representatives on the trip had tested negative in PCR tests but must continue to isolate.

They were on the same flight as some Team GB athletes, but Games rules do not require those competitors to self-isolate.

The secretary of the Sports Journalists Association has also been forced into self-isolation in his Tokyo hotel room, the SJA announced.

Liam Morgan, of insidethegames, wrote: “This sets a concerning precedent for those of us here to cover the Games, so it is little surprise the Main Press Centre is hardly a happy place right now.


“We are already subjected to various restrictions as it is. This is excessive and, quite frankly, unacceptable.”

There was some criticism of BBC Scotland for sending out a delegation for an event featuring a GB rather than a Scottish team and some questioned whether this created an additional risk at this particular time.

One wrote: “Why are BBC Scotland journos going when even the main BBC coverage is being broadcast from England”?UPDATE 23 July: The BBC, Eurosport and Channel 4 have embraced solutions such as remote production and virtual studios to produce the Games in line with strict rules laid out by the Tokyo 2020 organisers.

Three-quarters of all staff working on the BBC’s coverage of the Games are based in the UK rather than in Tokyo.

The BBC TV studio, production galleries, post-production and nearly all of its commentary will come from Salford in Greater Manchester and will take in the live feed, produced by host broadcaster Olympic Broadcast Services (OBS), and repurpose it for British audiences.

Tokyo Olympics: live from Salford

Ron Chakraborty, executive editor of major events at BBC Sport, said the corporation’s Olympics production team has “basically taken over” Dock 10 at Salford for the Games. “We’ve restricted the team going out to Tokyo to essential people only,” he said.

Media can only leave their accommodation to go to official Games venues and limited additional locations. That means they must not visit tourist areas, shops, restaurants, bars or gyms. Public transport is only allowed after their first 14 days in Japan .

Reporters can only conduct interviews in the dedicated mixed zone of the Olympic and Paralympic Village Plaza, and they must be no longer than 90 seconds in duration. These locations require temperature checks on entry and physical distancing rules must be followed at all times. 

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