Sally Fitzgibbons admits she feels some "anxiety" heading to Japan ahead of this month's Olympics.
The Gerroa talent is ready to represent the Irukandjis Australian surf team. However, as Tokyo heads into a state of emergency due to ongoing fears about COVID, Fitzgibbons' Games debut brings mixed feelings.
The state of emergency begins on Monday and continues through to August 22. While there will be no crowds in Tokyo, a limited amount of spectators may be allowed to watch the surfing competitions in Chiba.
The Australians were given a test run of what to expect at last month's ISA World Surfing Games in El Salvador, where Fitzgibbons, 30, claimed a gold medal.
"I feel like travelling in a pandemic, there's definitely a layer of anxiety that your dealing with - and it's constant. I think that is an underestimated energy drainer and coupled with the pressure it's all about managing those energies," she said.
"You could say that we're used to it from that El Salvador experience, but I don't think you can truly ever get used to it because at any given moment there's a level of anxiety of 'is there a green light or are we stopping?'
"There's a lot of things out of my control, but it's going to be such a freeing moment to step into that competitive arena, put the rashie on and paddle out."
Surfers will be based outside of the Olympic village, with Chiba located more than 50 kilometres east of Tokyo. Fitzgibbons admits that distance made her feel more comfortable.
"In a sense of competing, we will be in our own hub situation which will assist in our controlling our environment a little more," she said.
"In terms of the fan base in the city, it's going to be a little bit different and the stadiums won't be full. But in the open air and the beach arena, we might see a small local capacity, so we'll see how that goes. But we're definitely at an advantage because we're in an arena that's open and we can do the distancing, and everyone will have their masks on. But we'll see what happens."
Joining Fitzgibbons in Chiba will be Culburra Beach's Owen Wright. The 31-year-old is "ready to give it my all" at the Olympics, but says he misses his family back home.
"My family was hanging to come and watch, especially my wife and my kids. I think mum and dad were going to come across as well," he said.
"But with FaceTime and the internet, it's pretty good these days. I've been away for a while now and been able to watch my daughter crawl for the first time through FaceTime. It sounds odd, but I feel very connected to them even though I'm on the other side of the world."