By Amaechi Agbo
Two South Africa footballers have become the first competitors to test positive for coronavirus in the athletes’ village in Tokyo – five days before the start of the Olympic Games.
Organisers Sunday confirmed that 10 cases of the novel virus has been reported with four days to the commencement of the Games .
Meanwhile, six athletes and two staff members from Team GB’s athletics team are self-isolating after being identified as close contacts of an individual who tested positive on their flight to Japan on 16 July.
South Africa’s Football Association confirmed Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi as their positive cases.
The South Africa football team’s video analyst Mario Masha also tested positive on Saturday and the team is in quarantine pending more test results.
Another athlete from outside the village tested positive on Sunday too.
“We have three positive cases of Covid-19 in the camp here, two players and an official,” said South Africa team manager Mxolisi Sibam.
“There is daily screening which included taking temperature and saliva testing, Masha and Monyane reported high temperatures and positive saliva tests and were then taken to do the nasal test, which we all had initially taken and they unfortunately tested positive for Covid through that test. Mahlatsi is the latest player to go through the same process.”
Monyane, a right-back with Orlando Pirates in his homeland, posted on social media when the team arrived in Tokyo.
South Africa Sevens rugby coach Neil Powell also tested positive on Sunday on arrival in Japan and is now isolating in Kagashimo, where the squad is based for a pre-Games training camp.
In total, organisers on Sunday reported 10 new cases connected to the Olympics including media, contractors and other personnel. That compares with 15 new cases on Saturday.
Infection rates are rising among the general population of Tokyo, topping 1,000 new cases for four consecutive days. Polls show many Japanese people oppose holding the Games with the influx of overseas visitors it entails.
Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya said the three cases were from the “same country and sport”. They are “isolated in their rooms and Tokyo 2020 is delivering meals to them”, he said, adding that the rest of the team – which has not been identified – have also been tested.
BOA confirm eight close contacts
The British Olympic Association (BOA) said six athletes and two staff members from the athletics team were identified as close contacts of an individual who is not from the Team GB delegation in Tokyo.
The group are in self-isolation in their rooms at the association’s preparation camp, having all tested negative upon their arrival in Japan, and under the supervision of the Team GB medical team, led by chief medical officer Dr Niall Elliott.
“This is disappointing news for the athletes and staff, but we absolutely respect the protocols in place,” said Team GB chef de mission Mark England.
“We will offer them every support during this period and we are hopeful that they will be able resume training again soon.”
Speaking on Saturday, Games chief Seiko Hashimoto said: “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.”
Australia’s entire athletics team for the Tokyo Olympics were quarantined in their rooms on Saturday at their pre-Games training camp in Cairns, following a Covid-19 scare.
An inconclusive test had been returned by an official but subsequent tests were negative, the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) confirmed on Sunday.
Athletes have since been permitted to compete in a warm-up event
“My understanding is [Athletics Australia] applied an abundance of caution,” said David Hughes, the AOC’s chief medical officer.