Tokyo Olympics organizers said Saturday a person has tested positive for COVID-19 at the athletes’ village, the first case at a site where most competitors will be staying, raising new doubts over promises of a “safe and secure” games.
The organizers confirmed that a visitor from abroad who is involved in organizing the games had tested positive during a routine test on Friday. The person’s nationality was not revealed due to privacy concerns.
The person has been removed from the Village where thousands of athletes and officials will reside during the games, Masa Takaya, spokesman for the Tokyo organizing committee, told a news conference.
“Right now this person is confined to a hotel,” Takaya said.
The 2020 Games, postponed for a year due to the global pandemic, are being held mostly without spectators and under tight quarantine rules.
Japan’s public has been lukewarm about the games amid a resurgence in new coronavirus infections and worries that an influx of visitors may create a superspreader event, straining an already-stretched medical system. Only around 20% of the population is fully vaccinated.
Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto acknowledged the public’s concerns.
“I understand that there are still many worrying factors. Organizers must try to make sure that people will understand that these games are safe and secure,” she told a news conference on Saturday.
The Tokyo organizing committee said Saturday that 15 coronavirus cases were newly confirmed among Tokyo Games staff. The daily figure is the highest since July 1, taking the total number of coronavirus cases among the staff to 45.
The 15 new cases include the first case within the athletes’ village. Athletes are just starting to arrive for the games, which run July 23 through Aug. 8.
A key part of the anti-contagion measures is daily saliva testing of the athletes who take part, as well as frequent testing of others involved in the event. Visitors’ movements are also due to be monitored and restricted.
But in a sign that organizers were already finding rules difficult to enforce, Ugandan weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko went missing from his team’s training site in Osaka on Friday.
Authorities are still looking for him, according to games organizers. Media reports said he left behind a note saying he wanted to stay and work in Japan, as life in Uganda was difficult.
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