Zero risk? Virus cases test Olympic organizers’ assurances – .

Zero risk? Virus cases test Olympic organizers’ assurances – .

TOKYO – Two South African footballers became the first athletes inside the Olympic Village to test positive for COVID-19, and other Tokyo Games-related cases were also confirmed on Sunday, underscoring the Herculean task at which organizers face to contain the virus as the world’s biggest sporting event unfolds.

The positive tests came as some of the 11,000 athletes and thousands of other expected team officials from around the world started arriving, after going through a pandemic to travel to Tokyo.

They will all now live in close proximity to the Tokyo Bay Olympic Village for the next three weeks.

The president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, said last week that there was a “zero” risk of athletes transmitting the virus to Japanese or other residents of the village. But this bold statement was already tested.

The Olympics, which have been postponed for a year due to the pandemic, are expected to officially open on Friday and continue through August 8.

The two footballers and a team video analyst who also tested positive have been moved to “the Tokyo 2020 isolation center,” the South African Olympic committee said. The rest of the team and officials had also been quarantined.

The positive tests have further fueled local fears, with the South African side set to play host nation Japan in their first game on Thursday.

There has already been constant opposition from the Japanese public to holding the Olympics during the pandemic, fearing it could become a super-spreading event and cause an increase in infections among Japanese people.

Bach and the IOC insisted it would be safe and went ahead against most medical advice. The IOC says it sees the Games as a chance to foster international solidarity during difficult times, but the IOC would also lose billions of dollars in broadcast rights if the Games were to be canceled altogether.

Also on Sunday, the South African squad confirmed that the coach of their rugby sevens team also tested positive at a pre-Olympic training camp in the town of Kagoshima in southern Sudan. Japan. He was also isolated there and would miss the entire rugby competition, the team said.

And there have been other positive tests linked to the Olympics. Olympic organizers said another athlete tested positive, although they did not reside in the Olympic Village. The athlete was not named and only identified as “non-Japanese”.

The first official from the International Olympic Committee was reported as positive. He recorded a positive test on Saturday when he arrived at an airport in Tokyo. The IOC confirmed the test and identified him as IOC member Ryu Seung-min from South Korea. He was also reportedly held in solitary confinement.

Former long-distance runner and world championship bronze medalist Tegla Loroupe, the IOC Refugee Olympic Team Chef de Mission, tested positive for COVID-19 before the team left home base. drive from Doha, Qatar, to Tokyo, two people with knowledge of her condition told the AP. The team delayed their arrival in Tokyo while Loroupe is expected to stay put, according to the two people, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to reveal medical information.

Organizers say 55 people linked to the Olympics in Japan have reported positive tests since July 1, but that figure does not include athletes or others who may have arrived for training camps but are not yet under. the “jurisdiction” of the organizing committee.

Tokyo reported 1,008 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the 29th day in a row that cases were higher than seven days earlier. It was also the fifth day in a row with over 1,000 cases. The Olympics will open under a state of emergency in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures.

No fan, Japanese or foreign, will be allowed to participate in Olympic sports in Tokyo and the three neighboring prefectures. A few outlying venues can accommodate a small number of local fans, but it has effectively become a TV-only event.

About 200 protesters gathered outside Shinjuku Station in central Tokyo on Sunday, holding up signs reading “No Olympics.” It was the latest in a series of small anti-Games protests in recent months.

“It’s ignoring human rights and our right to life,” protester Karoi Todo told the AP. “Infections are on the rise. Playing the Olympics is unforgivable. “

Japanese and IOC organizers hope that strict testing protocols, where athletes, team officials and others are tested daily, will mitigate the risks posed by the thousands of foreigners arriving at the same time. Visiting athletes, officials and media will be in a “soft quarantine” situation and limited to Olympic venues, village and designated hotels, and will be kept away from the general Japanese public. The IOC also indicates that more than 80% of the athletes who will compete in Tokyo will be vaccinated against COVID-19.

But, despite assurances, positive tests five days before the opening ceremony have shown that the regulations are not – and cannot be – foolproof.

The South African team’s chief medical officer said each team member had two negative tests before traveling to Japan “in accordance with Tokyo 2020 requirements”. They also tested negative when they arrived in Tokyo, Dr Phatho Zondi said.

“The officials and team management (South Africa) followed all rules, protocols and procedures of the Olympic Playbook throughout the pre-Games arrival routines and to the Games,” said the Olympic Committee. South African.

Coach Neil Powell and the entire South African rugby team have been held in a quarantine facility after arriving in Japan due to a positive COVID test on their flight, the Africa team said. from South. They were allowed to leave, but Powell tested positive a few days later.

Powell had been vaccinated against COVID-19 with the Johnson & Johnson single-injection vaccine in South Africa on May 24, team spokesman JJ Harmse told the AP.

South Africa’s Olympic and football officials did not immediately confirm whether the two footballers and officials who tested positive had been vaccinated, although the South African Olympic committee said in May it would offer all its Olympic athletes the vaccine. NOT A WORD.

The Olympics were effectively over before their start for both footballers and Powell, as they were expected to remain in quarantine for 14 days under Japanese regulations.

The only way footballers can play is for their team to advance to the semi-finals. Powell will certainly miss the entire rugby competition and his Olympic experience will involve being isolated in a room for two weeks before returning home.


Imray reported from Cape Town, South Africa.


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