BLOG: KPRC 2′s team in Tokyo brings you their experiences at the Games

Tokyo Bay on the first weekend of Olympic competiton
Tokyo Bay on the first weekend of Olympic competiton (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

KEITH GARVIN

Saturday, July 24, 7:30 p.m. (Houston Time) / Sunday, July 25, 9:30 a.m. (Tokyo Time)

Hello from Tokyo! We have now entered our second week in Japan to cover the 2020 Summer Olympics…in 2021.

First impression: Tokyo is hands down one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited! The country is also known for being extremely clean & we have seen that is very much the case. This is the largest city in the world and not a speck of trash on the ground!

We all know Japan has a reputation for being very orderly and very polite. I can verify the people here are so polite and gracious with quite a bit of warmth. I have visited a decent number of countries and I have to say that here I don’t feel as if I stick out as a foreigner. The Japanese people treat me well and are as kind to me as any other visitor.

While our athletes are busy competing in their events, we are navigating through the obstacle course of quarantine and 15-minute windows where we are allowed to be outside. We have one more week on our mandatory 14-day quarantine. The way it works is we can be gone for work at another location for as long as we need to be gone. But for every building we are in, whether it’s our hotel or workspace, once we are there we can only leave in 15-minute increments. The time is marked by individuals who sit at tables at the entrance/exit. They mark your time by hand. We haven’t tested the waters yet but if we are late we could be in jeopardy of losing our credentials to cover the Games, so risking that is not worth staying out past our 15 minutes. If you are wondering, we can leave our building more than once per day. At least I haven’t been stopped from doing so lol.

But I can tell you we cannot wait to be off quarantine next Saturday. Once that happens we will be able to venture into just about any part of Japan. We will have to continue to abide by protocols like wearing our masks fulltime and not eating in restaurants after the 8:00 p.m. curfew. I would like most to visit Mt. Fuji and the Tsukiji Nippon Fish Port Market. We really want to show our viewers not just the Olympic competition but all the amazing sights and culture that make Japan so amazing!


CHRISTINE NOËL

Saturday, July 24, 5:30 p.m. (Houston Time) / Sunday, July 25, 7:30 a.m. (Tokyo Time)

Good morning from another beautiful day here in Tokyo! As I write this, I am sitting in our work station at the Hilton Odaiba prepping for my appearance alongside Keith in the Saturday 6 & 10pm shows. Did I mention it’s 6:30 in the morning here on SUNDAY? And a beautiful morning it is. The sun has just risen over Tokyo Bay and temperatures are expected to reach the mid 90′s today. The early morning here is my favorite time of the day because the air is still cool. And hey, I’m not going to lie... it’s still kind of crazy living in the future:) But really, the 14-hour time difference (Tokyo is 14 hours ahead of Houston) takes some getting used to!

We are now on day 8 on the ground here in Japan.. and boy, our first week flew by! We have been so incredibly busy not only getting acclimated to our new routine here in Tokyo, but also keeping up with all the latest headlines coming out of the Olympics as well as tracking our Texas and Houston athletes.

From where I’m sitting, the second full day of competition is about to begin following the opening ceremony on Friday. The Opening Ceremony was held at National Stadium here in Tokyo in front of nearly 10,000 people-- mainly officials, sponsors and foreign dignitaries but no fans. Very few members of the media were allowed inside due to the very strict covid protocols, so like you at home, I watched the ceremony on TV.

True to form for these Olympic Games, the Opening Ceremony was different than in previous years. The tone was somber, beginning with a moment of silence for all the lives lost during the pandemic. The ceremony also highlighted the beauty of Japanese arts and culture. The parade of countries took place afterwards with athletes waving to a nearly empty stadium.

As I was watching, I couldn’t help but feel such respect and happiness for all the athletes, including our Team USA. These athletes had to overcome the postponement of the games last summer due to the pandemic, and during that time, stay mentally and physically fit until this weekend when the Tokyo 2020 Games officially kicked off. And even as they were walking in the opening ceremony, just hours and days beforehand, word and worry was circulating as to whether these games should even go on.

So for me, seeing them get their long-awaited chance to show the world what they’ve got-- and have worked so hard for, for so long, made me happy and excited for these games! Then-- the competition kicked off in full force! It’s going to be an exciting couple of weeks!

As I’ve said before... It’s an honor to be here representing KPRC and I can’t wait to watch TEAM USA rack up some serious hardware! We will keep you posted every step of the way.

It’s almost time for the 6pm newscast, so I will say goodbye for now... I need to go make sure Keith has his shirt tucked in and shoes tied (Like any good TV wife would, haha:)!

Thanks for following along and have a wonderful rest of your weekend.

Cheers from Tokyo!

Christine


ROSE-ANN ARAGON

Saturday, July 24, 12:30 a.m. (Houston Time) / Saturday, July 24 2:30 p.m. (Tokyo Time)

Good morning from Tokyo!

Stayed up late to watch the Opening Ceremony. I thought they were beautiful, meaningful and a testament to the resilience and strength of all of these athletes who have worked so hard to bring their best skills to the world stage. The purpose of the Olympic games is to bring the world together through sport, according to officials, and I feel that the tone portrayed just that. Many athletes have trained their whole lives and an extra year for this moment and the tone of the Opening Ceremony, I felt, was very appropriate, especially with everything going on in the world. There was a moment of silence for the lives lost to the pandemic.

I can tell you from first-hand experience the Covid safety protocol here is very robust and very strict. Each day we have to monitor our symptoms and record them on the Ocha App. We also have to provide saliva samples for PCR tests and are required to use hand sanitizer and gloves. We are also under a strict 2 week quarantine, only allowed to go to our work spaces. I cannot imagine how strict the protocol is for athletes, may of whom are training in their hotel rooms due to the protocol!

The program had meaningful performances and dances. I loved the colors and show of pride from many countries and to see the spirit and personality of all the teams. The athletes’ faces say it all. This is certainly a different kind of Olympic Games. The US team is the second largest team in Olympic history and when they all walked out, decked out in red, white and blue, it was a moment of incredible pride. Loved to see them showcasing their best.

Yesterday, we also covered a local coach, Coach Tim Swords, who owns a now iconic two-car garage gym in League City that is a treasured place for those who train there. Swords trains Olympic weightlifter Sarah Robles who took bronze in the Rio Olympics. The two are a dynamic duo! Robles said there is no other place she’d rather train. The place breathes character, filled with posters, memorabilia and equipment. There’s no air conditioning! Robles said that makes her even more prepared at competition. Best of all, Tim Swords has a heart of gold. He trains with people from all walks of life and all ages, and his goal is to help people overcome challenges. You can check out more about Tim Swords and his gym HERE.

Before work today, photojournalist Allen Reid took his 15 minutes outside to find something Tokyo has a lot of: vending machines. Check it out:

Photojournalist Allen Reid's nine minute walk in Tokyo
Photojournalist Allen Reid's nine minute walk in Tokyo

Meanwhile, I did Facebook live on some Japanese beauty products I ran across during this trip.

Today is going to be a busy one with fencing, table tennis, cycling, softball and soccer. We are going to start working on that coverage!


CHRISTINE NOËL (OPENING CEREMONY DAY!)

Friday, July 23, 5:30 a.m. (Houston Time) / Friday, July 23, 7:30 p.m. (Tokyo Time)

Hey Houston! Christine here on what is now Day 5 on the ground here in Tokyo ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games! It’s hard to believe that after the postponement one year ago due to the pandemic that the Olympic Games here in Japan will finally begin in just a matter of hours.

I am so excited! These games have been a long time coming and we couldn’t be more excited for the many Houston-area athletes competing in these Olympics. Hometown athletes like cyclist Lawson Craddock, track star Raevyn Rogers, gymnastics star Simone Biles, and Softball Olympic gold medalist Cat Osterman (who I had a chance to talk to today! Can’t wait to bring you our interview.)— And that’s just to name a few! It is their time to shine on the global stage and we are here to bring all the action from Tokyo 2 Texas! (Or are we bringing Texas 2 Tokyo by being here?)

Speaking of… I am here with a fantastic crew from KPRC 2– the talented and spunky Rose-Ann Aragon, my co-anchor - aka my “TV-husband” Keith Garvin, and three fantastic photographers Byron Nichols, Adrian Crooks, and Allen Reid.

If you’ve been watching our coverage (and we hope you have!) You know by now there are strict Covid-19 protocols here in Japan right now. We have temporarily been confined to what we call the “NBC bubble,” where we are only allowed to shuttle back and forth from our hotel where we stay to the Hilton Odaiba, where we work. NBC has transformed hotel rooms on the 5th floor into TV studios, and that is where we are going LIVE from everyday. The view is absolutely spectacular! Right on Tokyo Bay with the Rainbow Bridge and Olympic Rings on a barge in the background. The view never gets old.

Christine snapped this photo of the Olympic rings over Tokyo Bay (KPRC/Click2Houston.com)
Christine in place for a live shot on KPRC 2 News (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

We are in now almost one week into our two week “soft quarantine.” We are allowed 15 minute unaccompanied outings… and honestly, it’s one of my favorites parts of the day. It’s a small window into the outside world in this absolutely beautiful country and city that we can’t wait to explore once out of quarantine confines. So stay tuned…

As I write this, the Opening Ceremony is set to begin shortly here at 8pm in Tokyo! Depending on when you read this Friday, you can watch them LIVE on KPRC early this Friday morning — or again at 6:30 p.m. on KPRC 2.

I am getting ready for bed… my alarm clock goes off at 2 a.m. each day— which is noon your time! You can watch over coverage on KPRC 2 News at 4, 5, 6, & 10 p.m.

Have a great morning! Cheers from Tokyo!


ROSE-ANN ARAGON

Friday, July 23, 12:30 a.m. (Houston Time) / Friday, July 23 11:30 p.m. (Tokyo Time)

Good afternoon from Tokyo! This is Rose-Ann. Had a very good night’s sleep. My body is finally adjusting to the time here, and I am happy to wake up at a decent hour (not 4am!). Today is the big day: the Opening Ceremony of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. There is definitely more of a buzz around our work spaces. Things are busy busy! Still...I fit in some time for a run. I posted some pictures of some of the sights on my run.

The Olympic Ceremony will take place at Olympic Stadium in Tokyo and will be broadcast live by NBC with coverage beginning at 7:55pm (Tokyo Time), which is 5:55am Houston Time. This Olympics is a bit special because it’s the network’s first ever live morning broadcast of an Olympic Opening Ceremony!

This year’s Opening Ceremony theme is “United by Emotion” which is inspired because these games took place during the Covid-19 pandemic. The theme aims to bring people together from all over the world--through sport!

Speaking of sports, can we talk about Simone Biles and her super cool Yurchenko Double Pike Vault at the first Olympic Podium Training?

If Biles nails this during the Olympic competition, the vault will be named after Biles.

You can read more about it HERE.

Something new this year, for the very first time each nation will be allowed to have two flag bearers: one man and one woman. This decision was announced last year in hopes to follow through with intentions to focus on gender equality. For the United States, New York basketball athlete Sue Bird and Miami’s baseball player Eddy Alvarez will be bearers for the Opening Ceremony. Interestingly, Ralph Lauren made their white jackets, which include a personal air conditioning system that disperses heat through a fan device at the back of the neck! Cool!

If you haven’t check it out yet, yesterday, we put together this beautiful story about the beauty of Japan including landmarks like the Shibuya Crossing, Sensoji Temple, Mount Fuji and more!

Photojournalist Allen and I are ready to bring these stories to you. Allen got creative and made a makeshift audio booth in our live location at the Hilton Tokyo Odaiba. You got to get creative to get it done sometimes! Allen is also a very talented photojournalist who puts together these gorgeous timelapses! That’s the view from his hotel room!

Tokyo time lapse
Tokyo time lapse

Can’t wait for Opening Ceremony! Our view from the balcony should allow us to see the glorious fireworks for an Olympics that almost never happened.


ROSE-ANN ARAGON

Wednesday, July 22 9:30am (Houston Time) / Wednesday, July 22 11:30pm (Tokyo Time)

Hello from the future--14 hours ahead to be exact. I wish I could tell you that you’d be winning the lottery... but... how about I tell you about the Olympics in Tokyo? Fair trade, right? :)

Keith, Christine and I are so grateful for this opportunity and to be here in Tokyo to be able to share these stories with you.

KPRC 2's Rose-Ann Aragon in Tokyo for the Olympics
KPRC 2's Rose-Ann Aragon in Tokyo for the Olympics

We are finally starting to feel settled. This is now the fifth day in Japan. The journey to Tokyo had been a long one: a flight to San Francisco, then from San Francisco to Tokyo!

After more than 12+ hours on a plane, a six-hour process at the airport to abide by Covid-19 safety protocol and a 1.5 hour drive from the airport to the hotel, we were wiped!

KPRC 2 Reporter Rose-Ann Aragon setting up to cover the Olympics in Tokyo
KPRC 2 Reporter Rose-Ann Aragon setting up to cover the Olympics in Tokyo

We realized quickly that food was not readily available after a certain time. We got to our hotel in Tokyo very late and the restaurant apparently closed early, so one of the few choices that was very obviously walking distance nearby was a 7-11, which is not your first choice when thinking of dinner in Japan. However, despite having to take a saliva PCR test for 5 days, and having to quarantine at your hotel and work area for two weeks, you are allowed outside the hotel for 15 minutes. You have to sign out and a hotel staff member times you at the front of the hotel. With this glorious opportunity, photojournalist Allen Reid went to the 7-11 to do some shopping for groceries. Take a look!

See what snacks KPRC 2's Rose-Ann Aragon has picked up while in Tokyo for the 2021 Olympics
See what snacks KPRC 2's Rose-Ann Aragon has picked up while in Tokyo for the 2021 Olympics

Surprisingly good or decent food! Those are somethings I would NEVER order at a 7-11 in America. I did a test taste of some of the items after the show:

I would say that my favorites right now are the chocolate koala bears and what I’ve had for breakfast-- Japanese beef curry!

Overall, it has been such an amazing experience. As far as TEAM USA: With Team USA Softball defeating Canada with a final score of 1-0 and the GOAT Simone Biles, Jordan Chiles and the rest of the Team USA Women’s gymnastics team finishing their first day of Olympic podium training, where they can practice what skills they might use in the Olympics games, this trip has been a great one so far!


CHRISTINE NOËL

Wednesday, July 21, 3:30 p.m. (Houston Time) / Thursday, July 22, 5:30 a.m. (Tokyo Time)

Hello! This is Christine writing to you from Tokyo where anticipation is building for the opening ceremony of the long-awaited 2020 Olympics!

It’s already Thursday here so we’re down to just one day until the official start of the Games. I’m here in Japan with my colleagues Keith Garvin and Rose-Ann Aragon, along with three of the best photojournalists in Houston, Byron Nichols, Allen Reid, and Adrian Crooks.

More athletes test positive for COVID-19 before Tokyo Olympics
More athletes test positive for COVID-19 before Tokyo Olympics

We landed here on Saturday and hit the ground running. There’s a 14-hour time difference. While normally we’d try to shake the jet lag quickly, we’re going to be trying to keep Houston hours here so we are counting on caffeine and adrenaline to keep us going! It’s tiring, but this is the trip and assignment of a lifetime and we are all thrilled to be here.

It’s a bonus that Houston and Texas have SO MANY fantastic athletes to feature and celebrate.

Gymnasts Simone Biles & Jordan Chiles, swimmer Simone Manuel, and softball legend Cat Osterman are just a few. Cat threw nine strikeouts last night in Team USA’s opening game against Italy! While medal competition doesn’t start until after the opening ceremony, team events like softball and soccer are underway.

Team USA soccer fell to Sweden in their opener, but they’re still a favorite here and we expect them to turn their Olympic story around.

Tokyo Olympics preparing for opening ceremony
Tokyo Olympics preparing for opening ceremony

Be sure to follow Rose-Ann, Keith, and me on social media as well as here on Click2Houston.com because you never know when we’ll be up and showing you something cool we’ve discovered in Tokyo or delivering the biggest headlines of the Games.

Here’s a Facebook Live Keith and I did showing our workspace in Tokyo. (Ignore the fact that I almost walked into a sliding glass door. We hadn’t gotten our coffee yet!)

Below that, you’ll see a Facebook Live Rose-Ann did from the International Broadcast Center.

Before I go, I wanted to let you know we have a special one-hour program called “Texas 2 Tokyo” airing TONIGHT at 8 p.m. on KPRC 2 (That’s Wednesday evening in Houston).

Our Tokyo team will be joined by KPRC 2 Anchors Dominique Sachse and Kris Gutierrez as well as KPRC 2 Sports Director Randy McIlvoy for a primetime special highlighting many of the Houstonians competing for the red, white, and blue here in Japan. We hope you’ll tune in.

You can also get Olympic updates by subscribing to our Texas 2 Tokyo newsletter, which you can find by clicking HERE and by bookmarking this blog. We’ll all be adding to it throughout the Games.

I’ll be live this afternoon on KPRC 2. See you on the air soon!


About the Authors:

Emmy Award-winning anchor/reporter, husband, dad, German Shepherd owner, Crossfitter, Game of Thrones junkie, chupacabra hunter.

A small-town girl from West Michigan with a passion for storytelling, traveling the world and meeting remarkable people along with the way.