Tokyo Olympics village detects first Covid case in 'foreign national'

First Covid case hits Tokyo Olympics Village: Organisers say ‘foreign national’ has tested positive and is ‘confined to a hotel’ six days before opening ceremony

  • Nationality of infected person is not known but they are part of organising team
  • 11,000-plus athletes and officials will stay in Games Village over coming weeks 
  • Japanese public fear pandemic-delayed event will bring fresh wave of infections 
  • Organisers have sought to reassure athletes that this year’s Games will be safe 
  • Find out the latest Tokyo Olympic news including schedule, medal table and results right here

Tokyo Olympics organisers have detected the first Covid-19 case inside the Games Village – just six days before the opening ceremony. 

According to Japanese media, the infected person is a ‘foreign national’ who tested positive on Friday and is now ‘confined to a hotel.’

The nationality of the individual is not being disclosed to ‘protect their privacy’ but officials said they are part of the organising team. 

The case is the first to be detected at the 44-hectare athletes’ village on Tokyo’s waterfront – where officials and the majority of the 11,000 competing athletes will be staying over the coming weeks. 

Teams from all four corners of the globe are just starting to arrive for the Games, which will run from July 23 to August 8. 

Organisers have sought to ease safety concerns but the event, which has been delayed by a year due to the pandemic, is receiving pushback from large parts of the Japanese public who fear a fresh wave of infections could wreak havoc on the country’s health system – especially as only 20% of the population is fully vaccinated.

Speaking on the new Covid case, Masa Takaya, spokesman for the Tokyo organising committee, told a press conference: ‘There was one person in the Village.

‘That was the very first case in the Village that was reported during the screening test. 

The opening ceremony is set to take place at the new National Stadium in Tokyo (pictured), which was completed in 2019 at a cost of more than £1 billion

A convoy of 75 buses perform a test run of transporting athletes to the Olympic Village in Tokyo

Members of the Canadian Olympic team stand outside a facility outside the Games Village, where a person has tested positive for Covid-19

Organisers said on Saturday a person had tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday inside the athletes’ village (pictured)

The virus was detected in a visitor from abroad who is involved in organising the Games, officials said (rooms in the Olympic Village pictured)

‘Right now this person is confined to a hotel.’  

Seiko Hashimoto, the chief organiser of the Tokyo 2020 Games, said organisers were ready to respond swiftly if there was a wider outbreak.

‘We are doing everything to prevent any Covid outbreaks,’ she said.

‘If we end up with an outbreak we will make sure we have a plan in place to respond.’

Hashimoto conceded that competitors at the Games would be anxious about the virus situation – and she vowed that organisers would not hide cases.

She said: ‘Athletes who are coming to Japan are probably very worried. I understand that.

‘That is the reason why we need to make full disclosure.’

She added: ‘I understand that there are still many worrying factors. 

‘Organisers must try to make sure that people will understand that these games are safe and secure,’ 

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said it was not yet known if the person who tested positive in the Olympics Village had been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Tokyo 2020’s president Seiko Hashimoto has acknowledged the public’s concerns as fearsof a fresh Covid wave mount

Members of the media are given a tour of the 44-hectare Games Village in Tokyo, which has detected its first Covid case

Olympic athletes will all stay inside tall residential buildings for the duration of their time in Japan

A replica of a bedroom in the Games Village, including its furniture and cardboard beds, is pictured in a display room

‘We don’t have any information on whether this person was vaccinated or not,’ Muto said.

He said competitors at the Games would be tested every day ‘so if someone tests positive, that person will be isolated immediately whether there are any close contacts or not’. 

The Japanese public fear an influx of visitors may create a super-spreader event, straining an already-stretched health system. 

Only around 20% of Japan is fully vaccinated against coronavirus, meaning a new wave could have serious health consequences.   

So far, more than 40 people involved in the Games, including both domestic and foreign nationals, have tested positive for coronavirus.   

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 organisers were already finding rules difficult to enforce, Ugandan weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko went missing from his team’s training site in Osaka on Friday.

Athletes can also use a dry cleaning booth whilst on site, helping them to focus on the Games

People in Tokyo hold signs calling for the cancellation of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as up to 80% of the public are outraged they are going ahead

Authorities are still looking for him, according to Games organisers. 

Media reports said he left behind a note saying he wanted to stay and work in Japan, as life in Uganda was difficult.  

Tokyo reported 1,149 new cases on Wednesday, the highest since figure in almost six months, beaten only on January 22, when 1,184 were reported. 

It was also the 25th straight day that cases were higher than they were a week earlier.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach told Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga this week that 85 per cent of the athletes and officials living in the Olympic Village on Tokyo Bay will be fully vaccinated.

He added that almost 100 per cent of IOC members and IOC staff were ‘vaccinated or immune.’ 

Spectators have already been banned from Olympic venues to protect athletes and organisers.  

The opening ceremony will take place at the new £1 billion National Stadium in Tokyo on July 23.

OUTBREAKS AT THE OLYMPICS

JUNE 20 – A coach with Uganda’s squad tests positive on arrival at Narita airport and is quarantined at a government-designated facility. The rest of the team heads by bus for their host city, Izumisano near Osaka in western Japan.

JUNE 23 – A Ugandan athlete tests positive, Izumisano officials said.

JULY 4 – A member of Serbia’s Olympic rowing team tests positive on arrival. The other four team members are isolated as close contacts.

JULY 9 – One Lithuanian and one Israeli athlete test positive, according to reports. Later reports say the Lithuanian’s results were unclear and subsequently tested negative.

JULY 14 – A masseur for the Russian women’s rugby sevens team tests positive, forcing the team into isolation for two days, the RIA news agency reports. Officials in Munakata, southwestern Japan, confirmed one staff member was hospitalised and said none of the team members could be considered close contacts.

– The refugee Olympic team delayed its arrival in Japan following a positive case with a team official in Doha. The infected official is in quarantine without symptoms and 26 of the 29 refugees will remain in their Doha training camp.

– Seven staff at a hotel in Hamamatsu, central Japan, where dozens of Brazilian athletes are staying, have tested positive, a city official said.

– Twenty-one members of the South African rugby team are in isolation after they are believed to have been in close contact with a case on their flight.

JULY 15 – Eight athletes from the Kenya women’s rugby team were classified as close contacts after a positive coronavirus case was found on their flight to Tokyo, said an official with the southwestern city of Kurume, where they were set to hold a training camp.

– U.S. basketball star Bradley Bealâs Olympic dream was cut short when USA Basketball announced the Washington Wizards star will miss the Tokyo Games after he entered coronavirus protocols at the training camp in Las Vegas.

– An Olympic athlete under a 14-day quarantine period tested positive for the virus, but had not yet moved to the Olympic Village, the organising committee’s website reported, without giving further details. They said one member of the Games personnel and four Tokyo 2020 contractors had also tested positive.

JULY 16 – Australian tennis player Alex de Minaur tested positive for COVID-19 prior to his departure for the Tokyo Olympics, the Australian Olympic Committee said.

– A member of the Nigerian Olympics delegation who tested positive for the coronavirus at Narita airport on Thursday has been admitted to a hospital, media said. The person, in their 60s, had only light symptoms but was hospitalised because of their advanced age and pre-existing conditions, TV Asahi said, adding it was the first COVID-19 hospitalisation of an Olympics-related visitor. No further details were available.

– An Olympic-related non-resident under a 14-day quarantine period tested positive for the virus, the organisers’ website said, without giving further details. Three Tokyo 2020 contractors, all of whom are residents of Japan, also tested positive, organisers said.

JULY 17 – 15 people tested positive for the virus, the organisers said, including the first case at the athletes’ village, who is a visitor from abroad and is involved in organising the Games. The rest are two members of the media, seven contractors and five members of the Games personnel.

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