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Colorado athletes see the health restrictions they'll face at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo

Athletes with USA Triathlon training in Boulder are heading to Olympic qualifying events in Japan, which is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases.

BOULDER, Colo. — U.S. Triathlete Taylor Knibb is training at Rally Sports in Boulder, and swimming, biking and running at high altitude to prepare for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. 

"It’s a very special experience that only a special handful of people get to experience," Knibb said. 

The games in Tokyo will stand out more than others. 

The 2020 Olympics were postponed last summer due to the pandemic, and while organizers are committed to holding the games this July, there has been an increase in COVID-19 activity in Japan. 

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Cases are on the rise and less than than 2% of the population has been vaccinated, setting up a lot of health restrictions for athletes looking to compete.

Triathlete Matt McElroy said athletes are putting apps on their phones that allow them to be tracked and update organizers on their health conditions.

“There are a couple of different protocols,” McElroy said. “You have to fill out an app of where you are every day.” 

Credit: 9News

Athletes also have to take several COVID-19 tests before leaving for Japan, and take even more during their stay. 

They will remain in social bubbles and only get a few days to acclimate to conditions in Japan before they compete.

“Normally we would get into Japan a week before,” McElroy said. “Now we only have four days to acclimate to the time zone.”

Credit: 9News

As far as training, athletes will have reserved spots, and spend most of their time in hotel rooms away from other athletes and teams.

"We can’t leave except for the race previews and swim slots each day, and gym time,” Knibb said. “You can’t run outside you can’t ride outside.”

Credit: 9News