July 18, (THEWILL) – The first cases of competing athletes testing positive for the coronavirus within the confines of the Olympic Village in Tokyo have been confirmed by the organisers after a pair of athletes returned positive test results. They come after a non-athlete recorded the first positive case this weekend.
That first case was confirmed to be an unnamed member of staff of the Czech Olympic team and Masa Takaya, the Tokyo 2020 spokesperson, thereafter revealed that all three cases “were from the same country and sport” and the infected were “isolated in their rooms and Tokyo 2020 is delivering meals to them”.
As Yasuhiro Yamashita, president of the Japan Olympic Committee, conceded, cases would emerge in connection with the Games as a fact of the times. Now, there are no fewer than ten new cases connected to the Olympics as at Sunday.
Most of these are personnel of the media, contractors and the Games personnel returning positive tests.
These notwithstanding, organisers insist they can hold a “safe and secure” event, the same promise that Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is leaning on to keep the Games on schedule but with a COVID-19 state of emergency in place.
Games boss Seiko Hashimoto tried to reiterate their readiness and why no one should be disturbed: “Athletes who are coming to Japan are probably very worried. I understand that. We are doing everything to prevent any COVID outbreaks. If we end up with an outbreak we will make sure we have a plan in place to respond.”
Related to an earlier THEWILL report, Australia’s entire athletics team have had to isolate in their room at their pre-Games training camp in Cairns on Saturday after a COVID-19 scare in their camp came from an inconclusive test revealed a weak positive result for a member of their support staff who has been working with the athletes in the camp.
Ian Chesterman, the Australian Olympic team chef de mission, said: “The subsequent inconclusive test on entering the athletics camp triggered two further, more extensive tests to confirm the staff member’s negative status.
“Athletics Australia has been working closely with Queensland Health and the staff member has been placed in quarantine, pending a final confirmation of their negative status expected later today.”
As the 11,000 athletes expected at the Olympic village make their way to the venue, these cases of infections making the news will undoubtedly be cause for concern. Yet, organisers insist the Games can be held safely and not be a super spreader event based on preparations they have made for any eventualities.
THEWILL had reported that Suga’s adminstration placed Tokyo under a state of emergency and it will remain so for the duration of the Games to curtail what was a daily rise in infection rates. But the Games will take place despite the Japanese public’s attempts to get the Olympics cancelled amid the new wave of infections.