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With less than a week before opening ceremonies begin at this year’s Tokyo games, at least two players from the South African soccer team They tested positive for COVID-19 inside the Olympic Village.
The two players, Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi, are the first athletes to test positive for the coronavirus at the site of the Olympic Village in the Japanese capital. A video analyst on the team, Mario Masha, also tested positive.
All three have been isolated, along with those who were in close contact with them.
The organizers of the games did not name the athletes, but said they were “not Japanese.” The results of his tests were confirmed by the South African Football Association.
In a sentence, the association said the team has “followed all relevant Olympic Playbook rules, protocols and procedures throughout the arrival routines leading up to the Games.”
The association also noted that the rest of the team tested negative.
Players tested negative before leaving for Japan
The team’s medical director, Dr. Phatho Zondi, said that all members of the South African Team tested negative twice using PCR tests within 96 hours of leaving for Tokyo.
“The timing of the positive results suggests that the PCR test on these individuals was performed during the incubation period of the infection, so they could be negative in South Africa and then positive in Japan,” Dr. Zondi said in the release. “Now they are isolated, where they will continue to be monitored and will not be allowed to train or have any physical contact with the rest of the team.”
A fourth member of the South African delegation also tested positive outside the Olympic Village. Rugby coach Neil Powel entered an isolation center in Kagashimo, where the country’s Sevens team is completing their training camp.
Olympic organizers also announced Sunday that a third athlete tested positive, but did not identify the player other than to say that they will not stay at the Olympic Village and that they are also “non-Japanese.” according to the Associated Press.
Concern grows in Japan as positive results appear
The announcement of the new cases comes at a time of deep concern within Japan over the desirability of holding the games, with Tokyo already under control. its fourth state of emergency since the pandemic began. With vaccination rates in the country lagging behind those in the United States and much of Europe, there are fears that an influx of thousands of people from around the world could cause new outbreaks. The state of emergency will mean there will be no spectators during the games within the capital, but even without international fans, more than 18,000 people are expected to attend the games.
Although the results announced Sunday are the first cases to appear in athletes, there is growing concern that others will test positive before competition begins later this week.
So far, more than 45 people affiliated with the Games have tested positive since the beginning of July, most of them contractors. That includes Ryu Seung-min of South Korea, who on Saturday became the first member of the International Olympic Committee to test positive upon arrival in Tokyo.
What precautions are there
Originally scheduled for July 2020, the games were postponed due to the pandemic, giving organizers time to try to take steps to keep athletes, staff and locals safe.
Japanese officials and Olympic organizing committee officials have been trying to limit interactions between people living in Japan and athletes and other people who come to the games.
Those who come to the games, including journalists, will be separated from everyone else when they arrive in Tokyo. They must have received two negative tests before flying and receive another test upon arrival. While they are in mandatory quarantine, they are tested once a day to make sure they are not positive.
Although there are security measures, the majority of Japanese citizens They have said they don’t want the games to go ahead. Less than a quarter of Japan’s population has been fully vaccinated.
Leila Fadel contributed to this report.