BREAKING NEWS
This content is not available in your region

First positive tests for athletes in Olympic Village fuel COVID-19 outbreak fears

Access to the comments Comments
By AP
euronews_icons_loading
People gather for a rally in Tokyo's Shinjuku shopping district Sunday, July 18, 2021, to protest against the Olympics starting from July 23.
People gather for a rally in Tokyo's Shinjuku shopping district Sunday, July 18, 2021, to protest against the Olympics starting from July 23.   -   Copyright  Yuri Kageyaman/AP
Text size Aa Aa

Two South African football players have become the first athletes inside the Olympic Village to test positive for COVID-19, with the Tokyo Games opening on Friday.

Organisers confirmed the positive tests on Sunday but didn't identify the athletes other than to say they were non-Japanese. The South African Football Association later confirmed there were three COVID-19 cases in its delegation — two players and a video analyst.

The players were defender Thabiso Monyane and midfielder Kamohelo Mahlatsi, SAFA said.

The South African football squad had been quarantined and was waiting for the results of further tests conducted on players and backroom staff on Sunday, team manager Mxolisi Sibam said in a statement.

South Africa is due to play Japan in its first game of the men's football competition on Thursday at Tokyo Stadium.

Organisers also said on Sunday that another athlete had tested positive but this person was not residing in the Olympic Village. This athlete was also identified as “non-Japanese.”

Also on Sunday, the first International Olympic Committee member was reported as positive. He recorded a positive test on Saturday upon entering a Tokyo airport.

The International Olympic Committee confirmed the test and identified him as Ryu Seung-min of South Korea. He won an Olympic gold medal in table tennis in the 2004 Olympics.

He was reportedly being held in isolation. Reports said he was asymptomatic.

'Zero risk'

IOC President Thomas Bach said last week there was “zero” risk of athletes in the village passing on the virus to Japanese or other residents of the village.

Former distance runner Tegla Loroupe, the chief of mission of the IOC's Refugee Olympic Team, has tested positive for COVID-19, two people with knowledge of her condition have told The Associated Press.

Loroupe tested positive before the team was to depart its Doha, Qatar, training base for Tokyo. The team has delayed its arrival in Tokyo and many are expected to start arriving in the next few days.

Loroupe is expected to stay behind, according to the sources, who requested anonymity because they weren't authorised to reveal medical information.

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

The Olympic Village on Tokyo Bay will house 11,000 Olympic athletes and thousands of support staff.

Tokyo reported 1,008 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, the 29th straight day that cases were higher than seven days previously. It was also the fifth straight day with more than 1,000 cases reported.

The Olympics will open on Friday under a state of emergency in Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures. The emergency order lasts until Aug. 22. The Olympics close on Aug. 8.

Fans — local and those from abroad — have been banned for all Olympic events in Tokyo and the three neighbouring prefectures. A few outlying venues may allow a smattering of local fans.

About 200 protesters gathered on Sunday outside Shinjuku station in central Tokyo, waving signs that read “No Olympics.” It was the latest in a series of small protests over the last few months targeting the Games.

“We are not only protesting the Olympics,” protester Karoi Todo told The Associated Press. “We are opposing the government overall — this is ignoring human rights and our right to life. Infections are increasing. To do the Olympics is unforgivable.”

Keigo Oyamada, a Japanese composer whose music is part of Friday's opening ceremony, has apologised for bullying a classmate when he was a child.

The reports of the abuse of a child with disabilities surfaced in Japanese media and sparked a backlash on social media. There has been a call for his resignation from the opening ceremony production.