Six British athletes and two staff members are self-isolating after coming into close contact with an individual who tested positive for Covid-19 on their flight to Japan, the British Olympic Association said Sunday.
All eight tested negative at the airport and are now under the supervision of the British delegation’s medical team, the association said in a statement
The individual who tested positive was not a member of the delegation.
Team Great Britain’s chief of mission, Mark England, said that the news was disappointing but “respects” the protocols in place. “We will offer them every support during this period and we are hopeful they will be able resume training again soon,” England said.
The rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Games is set to begin on Friday, but the rising number of Covid-19 cases tied to the competition has fueled concerns as to whether the Olympics can be safely held during the ongoing pandemic.
Japan grappled with a second wave of infections in the spring, with numbers peaking in April and May with close to 6,000 newly recorded cases per day. Cases began falling in June, but have risen again in recent weeks.
Organizers announced this month that the Tokyo venues will not have spectators due to the city’s coronavirus state of emergency — an unprecedented move, according to an International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesman.
Teams from more than 200 countries are due to arrive in the city in the coming days. As of Friday, more than 15,000 Olympic individuals had entered Japan, according to Thomas Bach, president of the IOC. The Olympic Village, containing 21 residential buildings, will house about 11,000 athletes.
The Olympic Village is prepped with Covid testing and health centers, with signs reminding residents to wear face masks and keep at least one meter (about 3.3 feet) away from each other. Athletes will be contact-traced and tested for Covid daily; if they test positive, they will be taken to an isolation facility outside the Olympic Village, and will not be able to compete.
More than 50 confirmed Covid-19 cases linked to the Games have been reported. On Sunday, three members from South Africa’s Olympic soccer team became the first people to test positive for Covid-19 after arriving at the Tokyo Olympic Village, according to the South African Football Association. The whole team is now under quarantine “until cleared to train,” according to the the association said.
Several prominent athletes have also dropped out of the Games. Some, like American tennis star Coco Gauff and NBA All-Star Bradley Beal, are unable to participate in the Games for health reasons. Gauff tested positive for the virus while Beal was placed in USA Basketball’s health and safety protocols last week.
Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios pulled out as well, in part due to the fact that spectators will not be allowed.
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