In less then 2 weeks Greg will be on his way to the Tokyo Paralympic Games. After being an umpire in 2004 at the Athens Games, in 2008 in Bejing as an umpire, in 2012 as a racket controller, this will be his 4th experience on an Olympic/Paralympic experience as an umpire.
Are you excited about the Games and your experience at the Tokyo Paralympic Games?
First of all, safety and good games for all of us. Athletes and officials. And off course I am exiting. Representing my country at such a prestigious event gives you great proud. It is a great honor to be nominated and selected. That is a pinnacle of the achievement.
What are you looking forward the most?
To enjoy the Games despite the fact that we all have to go through a lots of difficulties and restrictions.
We received a lot of information for the preparation before the Paralympic Games will begin. Some of it comes from the OCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) application that we had to download to our phones. Other information came from the Referee Team. What day we should do and when. Like where to go and receive our uniforms, umpire briefing, what time they are expecting us to be at the venue, match preparation etc.
The most important thing is to receive these two (96,72) hours tests NEGATIVE! Upload 72 hours result from test to OCHA. Everyone is expected to do that.
My trip to Japan – 2020 Paralympics Games
On Aug. 21th after all my preparations and two Covid test were done which I passed negative on both tests. I departed from Winnipeg to Tokyo.
The first leg of the journey was a three hour flight to Vancouver with an airplane fully booked. What a surprise after I landed in Vancouver! A lady representing Japan Airlines was waiting for me in an electric cart, to drive me to the proper gate. The whole process with the Japan Airlines was very smooth. They checked my accreditation, Covid tests (must be done 96/72 hours prior my international flight) OCHA application plus issued me my boarding pass to Tokyo. It was done with smile and quickly!!!!
On the second leg of my trip the Boeing 787 plane was almost empty, only 11 passengers, (probably the Crew had bigger numbers). The airplane took off on time to Tokyo. They even asked me where I would like to sit. Unfortunately, no they didn’t offer me Business Class! That may be the only minus of the experience with Japan Airlines!
It was very pleasant flight, with super nice Crew, excellent service, very good food, hot tea with lemon and for desert cold Japanese Beer!
After my arrival, I had to go through all the process with Covid procedures, checking my paper work, OCHA, and of course a Covid test had to be done again. The Immigration process was done smoothly in probably less than 2 hours. After that I had to wait for transportation. I was lucky because from 11 passengers only I was there for the Paralympics the rest of the people returned home to Japan. The hotel is very nice, with breakfast included. Single rooms for all officials, with a beautiful view. I got room on 30th floor, that is decent in size for Japanese standards.
ITTF representative distributed Umpire Uniforms yesterday evening from the Table Tennis sponsor “Li-Ning”. Today we will be going to get our official Paralympic clothes. Rehearsal in the evening, at the same time we will familiarize ourselves with the venue and Umpire equipment (score board etc.).
Today is my second day after arriving in Tokyo. First part of the day after a very good breakfast was getting our Olympic uniform. From early in the morning the bus took us to the Uniform Center and we received a jacket, pants, t-shirts, shirts, pants, hats, sack, belt, tights and runners. A lot of stuff that technically we won’t be able to wear! Our Paralympic clothing worn during the competition must be left in the hotel. We can only wear Official Umpire Clothes that were provided by”Li-Ning” and distributed by ITTF the day before. I skipped lunch because breakfast was big. I didn’t realize that the next time I would be eating at 9:30 in the evening!
In the Arena everything was closed and will only be open after competition starts in a couple of days. I noticed that they have a big problem with the transportation IN and OUT of the Hotel and Venue. Schedule of the buses is very bad!!! Even when we finished our meetings and rehearsal we had to wait several hours for transportation. We are not allowed to walk to the hotel or from the hotel to the Venue due to COVID restrictions. Living and working must be done in the BUBBLE environment. In the venue, we had several meetings, walking through procedures and of course COVID tests that everyone must have done. We got a little plastic tube were we spit saliva, put the sticker with the barcode to the tube and upload all the information to OCHA application and place it in the special designated location. This test will have to be done daily for the duration of our stay in Tokyo. The Government of Japan is monitoring everyone and can send you home at any time if you don’t comply with the requirements.
Tomorrow will be the last day before the Official Paralympics competition starts! There will be more meetings with the Referees Team and chances for us to familiarize ourselves with the score machine on the play of field.
Day 2 & 3
Finally after long anticipation Table Tennis at the Paralympics has begun.
First three days were extremely difficult. After having breakfast at 5:20 am we have to take bus at 6:25 am. Competition starts at 9:00 am, but we have to have Referee’s Meeting beforehand. They give us directions what we have to do, and tell us their expectations.
Day one we had 4 matches in the morning session and 4 matches in the evening. First day I had the opportunity to work with an umpire from Thailand. Next day, the teams had been changed and I worked with a female umpire from Russia.
The first three days each of us had 8 matches to umpire in different classes of Athletes some standings and others in wheelchairs, not every match was televised. The most difficult thing is umpiring the match and and at the same time operating scoring device! Not only points, games, players names but also penalty cards, time out, breaks, rotations etc. We were at the gymnasium around 7:00am until 10:30 pm and some people even 11:00 pm.
From day 5 of the Paralympics Table Tennis scheduling is much more friendly. My assignment today will be Gold Medal Match at the Womens Class 3 at the TV Table.
Tomorrow work load will also be good. From now on I can start enjoying The Games. However, every day we still have to upload information to OCHA about my temperature and place tube with my saliva at the designated location by the Gymnasium.
The Team Competitions are getting to the final stage and it will be soon time to fly back home. The last couple of days were very busy. I umpired different group classifications from class 1 to class 10.
Today, I had a couple of quarterfinals matches early in the morning. I had to show a yellow, then red card to the bench, and eventually removed the player from the venue.
We having strict guidance about Covid protocols and wearing a mask is mandatory. Unfortunately, they had a different idea and did not want to follow the rules!!!
I would like to say a big thank you to the volunteers who are helping us during the Games. Most of them are students but in some cases there are some more mature people helping us as well. They are all so polite, happy, dedicated with a great attitude. It’s a pleasure to work with them. They are the superstars of this Paralympic Games!
Tomorrow, I have been appointed to umpire the last match of the day. Men’s Class 3 Final at 18:30. China vs Germany. Not too many matches left, but we have to do quite bit of work to prepare for our return back home.