The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are scheduled to begin this Friday, but the growing number of covid-19 cases linked to the competition has fueled concerns about whether the Games can be held safely during the ongoing pandemic.
On Sunday, the British Olympic Association reported that six British athletes and two staff members are in isolation after coming into close contact with a person who tested positive for COVID-19 on his flight to Japan.
All eight tested negative at the airport and are now under the supervision of the British delegation’s medical team, the association said in a statement.
The person who tested positive was not a member of the delegation.
Team Great Britain’s head of mission Mark England said the news was disappointing but “respects” current protocols. “We will offer them all the support during this period and we hope they can resume training soon,” England said.
Japan faced a second wave of COVID-19 infections in the spring, with numbers peaking in April and May with about 6,000 new cases registered per day. Cases began to drop in June, but have risen again in recent weeks.
Organizers announced this month that Tokyo venues will have no spectators due to the state of emergency over the coronavirus in the city, an unprecedented move, according to a spokesman for the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Teams from more than 200 countries should arrive in the city in the next few days. As of Friday, more than 15,000 individuals related to the Olympians had entered Japan, according to Thomas Bach, president of the IOC. The Olympic Village, with 21 residential buildings, will house some 11,000 athletes.
The Olympic Village is prepared with health centers and covid-19 tests, with signs reminding residents to wear face masks and stay at least one meter away from each other.
Athletes will be tracked and evaluated daily for COVID-19; If they test positive, they will be transferred to an isolation center outside the Olympic Village and will not be able to compete.
More than 50 confirmed cases of Covid-19 related to the Games have been reported. On Sunday, three members of the South African Olympic soccer team became the first people to test positive for COVID-19 after arriving at the Tokyo Olympic Village, according to the South African Soccer Association.
The entire team is now in quarantine “until authorized to train”, according to the association.
Several prominent athletes have also withdrawn from the Games. Some, like American tennis star Coco Gauff and NBA All-Star Bradley Beal, cannot participate in the Games for health reasons. Gauff tested positive for the virus, while Beal was listed in the US basketball team’s health and safety protocols last week.
Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios has also retired, in part due to the fact that spectators will not be allowed.
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