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Kansas City MLS referee returns home from role at Tokyo Olympics

Kyle Atkins
Posted at 7:56 PM, Aug 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-15 00:11:01-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A local Kansas City, Missouri resident was offered the job of a lifetime.

Kyle Atkins spent weeks in Tokyo, Japan at the 2020 Olympics.

“I was there, selected by FIFA as a match official for the Tokyo Olympics," said Kyle Atkins, assistant referee.

Atkins works for Major League Soccer and travels weekly to different matches, but his Olympic experience was one of a kind.

“You hope you get that email saying, 'Congratulations, you’ve been selected,' and it was pretty surreal finally getting that notification," Atkins said.

Atkins was chosen to work as an assistant referee for men's soccer matches at the Tokyo Olympics.

“We did three games, two in the group stage," Atkins said. "We did Brazil vs Ivory Coast in match day two, and match day three we did Argentina vs Spain. And then in the quarterfinals, we did Japan vs New Zealand."

Atkins left Kansas City on July 14 and returned home the first week of August.

“It was a pretty surreal experience because, as I’m sure you know, the stadiums were completely empty due to COVID protocols and the state of emergency in Japan, so it was a little eerie and a little different than what we’re used to back here in the states where things have opened up a little bit more," Atkins said.

The state of emergency in Japan kept Atkins and his officiating crew in their hotel or at the field.

“We saw a lot from our bus windows on the way to games and back, so that was my experience of Tokyo was through a sheet of glass," Atkins said.

Atkins hopes the World Cup could be the next tournament on his schedule.