The wrestlers hold each other closer than lovers and smear them with sweat, spittle, and sometimes blood. They huff and puff into their flushed faces, with their mouths open, lungs heaving, and mouths agape. It’s difficult to distinguish their fluids from theirs on their glowing bodies.

This is a sign of the health hazards associated with such close proximity: The only person in the hall without face masks is them.

Olympic wrestling is a fascinating experience in the midst a pandemic of an airborne disease.

It’s a nightmare for germophobes. You can see it from the stands, where volunteers post signs warning of non-existent crowds. They are barred from the Tokyo Games due to rising coronavirus infections in the Olympic host nation, where less than one third of the population has been vaccinated.

Because wrestling is the most contact sport at the Olympics, it speaks loudest about the all-out fight against the virus that athletes waged to reach Tokyo. Once there, they will continue to fight to remain free from infection.

Wrestlers act as the Games’ equivalent to the canaries who alerted coal miners of noxious gas in closed-in mines. Even though they are confident going body-to-body in combat, this is testimony to the extraordinary efforts Olympians make to stay healthy. They have a sanitary discipline that allows them to compete but also makes it fun.

Aline Silva, a Brazilian wrestler, says it is a necessary cost to pay. Aline Silva hopes that the Tokyo Games will counter COVID-19 fatigue and send a sobering message to everyone: Until the virus is defeated, people around the world should be more cautious and take better care. Brazil has the world’s second-highest COVID-19 death toll with 556,000 fatalities.

Brazil is a country where everyone knows it’s better to avoid parties and other activities. Silva stated that they aren’t sure why they don’t care. “So, we must show people that right now we need to be focused on our jobs as safely and effectively as possible.”

The 34-year old had her sights set on Tokyo to make amends for the loss of a medal in her home Games in Rio de Janeiro 2016. The pandemic broke out and she had set her sights on Tokyo to make amends for not winning a medal at her home Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. An uncle of hers spent 13 days in hospital with COVID-19. She was able to resume preparations for the Games this year only after being part of a small group of athletes who were tested together and had limited contact with outsiders.

“I believe people should think about their lives right now. This is more important than any other sport. She said, “But we are here, trying not to get infected with this virus.” We must all do our part to ensure that everyone survives. While I may not be able to die from COVID, I don’t want it to spread to anyone else. Many people don’t think about this, I believe.

Tokyo’s Olympians are unable to stop thinking about it. They are sealed off in a giant sanitary bubble built with daily tests, oceans of sanitizer and strict restrictions on their movements. They are told not to meet with anyone outside of their team. They are instructed to refrain from giving hugs, high-fives, and handshakes. These gestures were deemed unnecessary by Games organizers. This is advice that they often disregard in the heat of competition. They can’t watch any other sport or walk around the city.