‘Caution’ and ‘wariness’ amongst athletes in Tokyo

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New Zealand flagbearer Hamish Bond has noticed a “different vibe” in the Tokyo athletes village to the three previous Olympics he has attended.

Hamish Bond wears Te Māhutonga, the New Zealand Olympic team’s Kākahu, after being named as a flagbearer for the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony.
Photo: Andrew Cornaga/Photosport

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The double Olympic gold medallist arrived in the village with the rest of the rowing squad at the weekend and immediately noticed a contrasting atmosphere from his experiences in Beijing, London and Rio.

“There is a slightly different vibe,” Bond told RNZ.

“There’s just an air of caution and a little bit of wariness from across the quarters and you know that’s the way we need to be to look after ourselves and also the Japanese public and the people that are hosting us here. It’s just a different reality.

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“A lot of it [the village] is familiar to Olympics in the past in terms of the set-up and the orientation of the rooms, the food hall. Obviously the glaring difference is the Covid protocols, with the mask wearing and social distancing.

“But I feel safe in the village. I feel as though our team is well-organised and well versed in taking the necessary measures to protect ourselves as much as we can.”

Bond will carry the New Zealand flag with Black Ferns Sevens captain Sarah Hirini at Friday’s opening ceremony.

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He said they will continue to keep largely to their sports during the ceremony and will follow the standard practice of “hand sanitizer, masks, keeping your distance”.

New Zealand Men's Eight - Tom Murray, Hamish Bond, Shaun Kirkham, Michael Brake, Dan Williamson, Phillip Wilson, Tom Mackintosh, Matt MacDonald, Sam Bosworth (cox).
2021 World Rowing Final Olympic Qualification Regatta Switzerland 2021.

Hamish Bond (second from left) with the New Zealand men’s eight after qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics.
Photo: PHOTOSPORT

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“The details of exactly how that’s going to pan out are still sort of coming to hand but I’m looking foward to leading the team,” Bond said.

“It’s obviously going to be a slightly different scenario with no spectators, somewhat muted, but I think it’ll be years in the future maybe where you look back and you can reflect on that opportunity that it’ll be pretty special.”

Hamish Bond’s Olympic build-up has also been different.

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Bond is now a member of the men’s eight, after winning back-to-back gold medals in the pair with Eric Murray in London 2012 and Rio 2016.

“Obviously coming into the last couple of Olympics being hot favourites to win and a gold medal was the only acceptable outcome for us as individuals really.

“With the men’s eight here we still want to do well, we believe we can do well. I’m excited to see how we stack up against the international competition.

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“It’s been a long time between races. We had a short stint in Europe where we raced the qualifying regatta, principally against Romania, who also qualified alongside us but in terms of the wider field we really don’t how things are going to shake down.”

– RNZ

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