The first case of coronavirus has been reported in the Tokyo Olympics athlete village, raising questions about how “safe and secure” the games will be.
Organizers confirmed that a visitor from abroad working for the Olympics tested positive in a routine check on Friday. The person’s nationality was not disclosed due to privacy concerns.
There have been 14 other new cases related to the games starting next week, Reuters reports.
The other cases included two members of the media, seven contractors, and five game staff.
The case of the Athletes’ Village, a 44-hectare site built on Tokyo’s waterfront, is particularly worrying as most of the 11,000 competitors will stay there.
Originally intended to show Japan’s recovery from its 2011 earthquake and nuclear disaster, the Tokyo Olympics have become a damage limitation exercise.
Postponed for a year due to the global pandemic, it takes place mostly without spectators and under strict quarantine rules. Most of the athletes are beginning to arrive for the games, which will take place from July 23 to August 8.
The Japanese public has been cautious about staging the games amid a resurgence of new coronavirus infections and concerns that an influx of visitors could create a wide-spread event, putting an already stretched medical system to the test.
Only about 20% of the population is fully vaccinated.
Although Japan has escaped explosive blasts from other nations, it has more than 820,000 cases and some 15,000 deaths. The number of new cases in the host city of Tokyo, which is in its fourth state of emergency from the virus, has exceeded 1,000 for four days in a row.
President of Tokyo 2020, Seiko Hashimoto, acknowledged the concerns of the public.
She said at a press conference on Saturday:
I understand that there are still many worrying factors. The organizers should try to make sure that people understand that these games are safe and secure.
So far, more than 40 people involved in the Games, including Japanese and foreigners, have tested positive.
Toshiro muto, head of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, said on Saturday that officials were working on the assumption that there would be positive cases of Covid-19.
A key part of the measures against contagion are the daily saliva tests of the athletes who participate, as well as the frequent tests of the others involved in the event. Visitor movements must also be monitored and restricted.