Olympics is hit by Covid chaos as two athletes test positive in Olympic Village
The Olympic Village has been plunged into chaos after two athletes tested positive for the virus in Tokyo.
Olympic organisers revealed the news on Sunday, as the South African football team announced that two of their players had tested positive.
They were named as players Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi.
Video Analyst Mario Masha from the South African squad also tested positive on arrival in Tokyo as the team prepares to face hosts Japan on Thursday.
Mahlatsi and Monyane are the first athletes in the village to be reported positive, adding to the uncertainty around the Tokyo Olympics that are to open on Friday after being delayed a year by the pandemic.
Fifty-five cases linked to the Games have been discovered this month, including four athletes.
These include media, contractors and other personnel. A further 15 new cases were reported on Saturday.
Athletes are arriving to find a restrictive environment, with daily testing, social distancing and no movement possible outside the Olympic “bubble”. They are under orders to leave Japan 48 hours after their event.
Covid cases in Toyko are on the rise with 1,300 cases recorded on July 15 – the highest figures in the Japanese capital within the last six months.
It is not known what Covid variant the athletes have, but the rise in Japan’s case figures has been attributed to the spread of the highly-infectious Delta varien, which first originated in India.
On Saturday, Games chief Seiko Hashimoto admitted athletes are ‘probably very worried’ about coming to Japan, pledging full transparency over Covid cases.
‘We have three positive cases of COVID-19 in the camp here, two players and an official,’ team manager Mxolisi Sibam said in a media release from the South African Football Association on Sunday.
‘There is daily screening….Masha and Monyane reported high temperatures and positive saliva tests, and were then taken to do the nasal test…and they unfortunately tested positive for COVID-19.
Two athletes tested positive for Covid in the Olympic Village, while three members of the South African football squad (pictured waiting for tests) also recorded positive tests
Former distance runner Tegla Loroupe, the chief of mission for the IOC’s Refugee Olympic Team, is reported to be the IOC athlete who tested positive
‘Mahlatsi is the latest player to go through the same process.’
He said as a result, the team has been quarantined until cleared to train, waiting for results from tests earlier on Sunday.
‘This unfortunate situation has made us miss our first intensive training session last night.’
It comes as a member of IOC’s Refugee Olympic Team was also confirmed to have caught the virus.
South Korean IOC member Ryu Seung-min also tested positive on arrival in Japan and was placed in isolation, a spokesman for the Olympic body said.
Former distance runner Tegla Loroupe, the chief of mission for the IOC’s Refugee Olympic Team, is reported to be the IOC athlete who tested positive.
The result is understood to have been recorded before the team was to depart its Doha, Qatar, training base for Tokyo.
It forced the IOC team to delay its arrival in Tokyo where the Olympics open on Friday.
The International Olympic Committee issued a statement several days ago and said only that an unnamed ‘official’ returned a positive test in the Refugee Team delegation.
But Anne-Sophie Thilo, a press spokesperson for the team, declined to confirm the identity of the IOC Olympic team who tested positive.
The two atletes in the Village are the first to be reported positive, adding to the uncertainty around the Games
The Olympics are to open on Friday after being delayed a year by the pandemic (stock image)
The footballers and Loroupe’s positive tests are one in a long line of athletes, team officials, and others who have tested positive for Covid.
In another example of the difficulties, Australia’s entire athletics team was quarantined before departure after a member of their entourage returned an inconclusive test. The official later tested negative.
Australia has 194 athletes in the Olympic Village backed by support staff including psychologists to help them deal with the ‘extra strain’ of the anti-Covid measures.
Australian basketball star Liz Cambage was one of the athletes to pull out of the Games, citing mental health fears, while tennis player Nick Kyrgios withdrew due to the lack of fans.
Loroupe is a two-time winner of the New York City marathon, and in the late 90s she was a force from 10,000 meters through the marathon distance.
Declining to confirm the name, Ms Thilo said most of the team will be in Tokyo in the next few days. The 26 athletes in Doha and other officials had tested negative.
‘If everything goes right, the whole team of athletes and coaches will be in Tokyo on Tuesday,’ she said.
The Refugee Olympic Team has been heavily promoted by the IOC, a humanitarian gesture that was introduced five years ago at the Rio Olympics in the form of a 10-member team.
The team for Tokyo is to be twice as large and has been the focus of promotion, partially to counteract opposition in Japan to the Olympics and generate some goodwill.
The IOC would not confirm it was Loroupe that tested positive.
‘You will appreciate that we are not in a position to provide names without the approval of the individuals concerned,’ the IOC said in a statement to the AP, who reported that it was Loroupe who tested positive.
‘However, we can confirm that the team members are able to train in Qatar, and we are looking at the next steps. We will provide information once decisions have been taken.’
In a statement earlier in the week, the IOC said the official who tested positive was isolated by Qatari public authorities and is considered asymptomatic.
The Qatari government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Qatar has reported over 223,000 cases of the coronavirus and nearly 600 deaths.