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Tokyo 2020

Why tracking journalists using GPS during the Tokyo Olympics is an invasion of privacy

All the foreign journalists who will travel to Tokyo for covering the Olympics will be tracked using the GPS technology during their entire duration of stay.

Tokyo Olympics

 Tokyo Olympics


Abhijit Nair

Updated: 19 July 2021 10:11 AM GMT

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is now less than a week away. The quadrennial event is being held almost a year after it was originally scheduled to be held, due to the havoc caused by the covid-19 pandemic during the last one and a half year.

The Tokyo Olympics are being held in some extraordinary circumstances. The coronavirus has not been completely eradicated from the world and there still exists a huge risk of outbreak due to the Olympics, but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has maintained that they will go ahead with the Games come what may.

To prevent the Tokyo Olympics from being an epicenter of covid-19 outbreak, the IOC along with Tokyo Olympics organising committee and the Japanese government have already announced a set of rules which everyone involved in even the minutest of capacity in the Olympics have to compulsorily follow.

These rules includes the basics like maintaining social distancing and wearing a mask all the time one is outside their room. Amongst the many precautionary measures which will be implemented during the Olympics is the one which states that all the foreign journalists who travel to Tokyo for covering the Olympics will be tracked using the Global Positioning System (GPS) technology during their entire duration of stay.

As bizarre as this might sound, it is true.

The Tokyo Olympics organisers announced this rule last month whilst also adding that the failure to comply to this rule will result into that particular journalist's media accreditation being revoked.

While one can certainly understand the perspective of the organisers, who want all the necessary precautions to be taken in order to prevent a covid-19 outbreak, this move certainly raises a lot of eyebrows because this completely disregards one's privacy.

The journalists tracked through GPS in their mobile phones will always have someone monitoring them, and the data would be shared with the organisers if required.

This move will also certainly restrict the freedom of press during the course of the Olympics. Freedom is the core pillar on which journalism is built, and if that is compromised how could one expect the journalists on ground to cover the Olympics with the best of their abilities.

Even the International Federation of Journalists raised this same issue when the rule was announced, but to no avail.

"The implementation of such precaution denies journalists their right to privacy and limits the freedom of the press. The IFJ urges the Olympic Organising Committee to repeal this regulation and discuss alternative ways of maintaining the safety of all attendees with journalists and their unions," the IFJ had said last month.

Besides, the fact that only foreign journalists would be tracked using GPS and the local journalists will not be is yet another debatable point.

The Tokyo Olympics organisers surely are just aiming to restrict any possible covid-19 outbreak, but the question remains, "Is there not a better way to go about it?"

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