The Jerusalem Post
First competitors in Olympics athletes’ village infected with COVID-19
TOKYO (Reuters) – Tokyo Olympics organizers on Sunday reported the first COVID-19 cases among competitors residing in the athletes’ village, as its population swells ahead of the start of the pandemic-hit Games next week.
Two athletes from the same country and competing in the same sport staying in the village in the Harumi waterfront district tested positive for the virus, organizers said without providing further details.
Organizers on Sunday reported 10 new cases connected to the Olympics, including a third athlete who was not staying in the village, down from 15 new cases a day earlier.
South Africa also reported three positive cases in its soccer squad – two players and an analyst. It was not immediately clear if those cases were identified as part of the same testing program.
An International Olympic Committee member from South Korea tested positive for the coronavirus on landing in Tokyo. Ryu Seungmin, a former Olympic athlete, is vaccinated, reflecting the infection risk even from vaccinated attendees.
There are now 55 people affiliated with the Olympics who have tested positive for the virus this month, according to a list kept by organizers.
The new infections are testing the layered testing regime designed to ensure COVID cases are quickly caught and isolated. Proponents argue that the growing number of cases underscores the strength of the testing system.
Infection rates are climbing among Tokyo’s general population, topping 1,000 new cases for five consecutive days. Polls show many Japanese oppose holding the
Games with the influx of overseas visitors it entails.
The opening ceremony for the 2020 Tokyo Games, which were postponed last year due to the coronavirus, remains on schedule for Friday.
The pageantry of the opening ceremony comes amid the stark reality of the virus in Japan’s capital city. On Sunday, Tokyo reported 1,008 new COVID-19 infections, the fifth straight day the number exceeded 1,000.
Tokyo is operating under a state of emergency through August 22 that took effect on Monday – its fourth since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020. The
Games will go on despite residents’ opposition and doctors’ warnings that hospitals could be flooded with COVID-19 patients.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is betting his political fortunes on successfully pulling off the Games while suppressing rising COVID cases.
Public support for his cabinet has slid to 35.9%, a Kyodo poll showed on Sunday, the lowest since he took power last September. Just 29.4% think the fourth state of emergency, which began last Monday, is effective, according to the poll.
The rainy season ended in Tokyo on Friday, bringing blue skies and intense heat. The burden on participants has been increased by virus countermeasures like masking.
Officials point to heat countermeasures including the distribution of drinks and salt tablets and the use of misting towers and cooling vests.
The delayed Olympics was intended to showcase a modern, diverse Japan at a time of rising regional rivalries but the pandemic has left the country hosting a pared down event.
Athletes continue to question the compromises organizers have made, with Maya Yoshida, captain of Japan’s soccer team, calling for the decision to hold the Games behind closed doors to be reconsidered.