Minto October Emag | Page 13

“ It was strange not having fans there . It ’ s all about the energy . Those who could witness what these athletes accomplished was limited to the officials and starters so , later , they let the other swimming teams become the audience ,” she says . She describes how great it was to see teams from all over the world in the stands cheering on the competitors .

Denice experienced firsthand some of the challenges of participating in the Olympic Games during a world pandemic . The flight to Japan was closed to all but officials , dignitaries and athletes , and COVID tests were required 72 hours and 48 hours before the flight . She also had to download apps on her phone that tracked her so she could be reached and quarantined if she came into contact with the virus .

“ We had to wear credentials and masks everywhere and could only go in certain areas and to the venue and back so I saw mostly apartments and industrial areas ,” says Denice . However , she plans to return to Tokyo in the future so that she can actually see the country and experience the culture .

“ The Japanese are the most gracious and kind people . They were constantly thanking us and bowing . They were very excited we were there . The volunteers were all Japanese and , at night , they would line up outside the venue and be waiting and cheering for us like we were the athletes !”

Officials could hang out together and everyone has to be able to speak English so Denice visited with officials from South America , Caribbean Islands , the UK , Canada , Spain , Ukraine , Germany , Netherlands , Austria , Middle East , South Africa , New Zealand , Australia , China , Japan , Holland , Denmark and other countries . “ They would ask where I lived and I would say Margaritaville . They got a big kick out of that . They didn ’ t realize it actually existed . A lot of them wanted to come visit !”