COVID-19 Positive Cases Among Olympic Athletes Stirs Controversy
Three South African soccer players became the first athletes inside the Olympic Village to test positive for COVID-19, and other cases connected to the Tokyo Games were also confirmed Sunday. This comes amid IOC president Thomas Bach‘s claim that the Olympics will have “zero risks.”
Now that claim is being tested as there is now a COVID-19 outbreak. The positive tests started rising as many of the 11,00 athletes and thousands of more team officials expected from across the globe began arriving. The arriving athletes and team officials will live in close quarters in Olympic Village on Tokyo Bay over the next three weeks.
The positive tests continue to stroke fear in the Japanese public. There have been fears by the public that the Olympics would become a super-spreader event and causes a spike in infections among Japanese people.
On Sunday, three South African soccer team members became the first positive cases at Olympic Village. Because of the positive tests on the soccer team, a total of 21 members of the South African men’s soccer team for the Tokyo Olympics have been identified as close contacts, the games organizing committee said Monday.
The South African soccer team is scheduled to face Japan on Thursday. The South Africans identified as close contacts are allowed to play if they test negative in their polymerase chain reaction tests conducted within six hours before the match.
Team South Africa also confirmed the coach of their rugby sevens team, Neil Powell, tested positive at a pre-Olympics training camp in the southern Japanese city of Kagoshima. He is in isolation and will coach the team remotely during their July 26-28 Olympic campaign.
Brian McCloskey, a health expert advising the International Olympic Committee, said at a press conference on Monday that the athletes’ village is safe because people staying there are being tested for the virus regularly.
However, that is now being tested with the increase of positive tests among athletes. On Monday morning, the USOPC announced that an alternate on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team tested positive for COVID-19. Kara Eaker, 18, tested positive in Inzai, a Japanese city in the prefecture where the women’s gymnastics team recently held a training camp before the start of the Olympics.
Organizers say that 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.
Stay tuned for more updates on this developing story.