Two South African footballers in Olympic Village test positive for Covid-19

Tokyo 2020 president insists there is a plan in place to deal with an outbreak in Village

An image of the athlete’s village in Tokyo. Photograph: Jae C Hong/AP

An image of the athlete’s village in Tokyo. Photograph: Jae C Hong/AP

 

Two South African footballers have become the first athletes in the Olympic Village to test positive for Covid-19, raising fears that the virus may force a growing number of competitors out of the Tokyo Games when they begin on Friday.

The players, Orlando Pirates right-back Thabiso Monyane and Moroka Swallows’ attacking midfielder Kamohelo Mahlatsi, joined the video analyst Mario Masha, who tested positive on arrival in Tokyo . The whole South Africa squad is now in quarantine while they await the results of further tests. South Africa are due to face Japan in the Tokyo Stadium on Thursday.

The news was confirmed by South Africa team manager Mxolisi Sibam, who said: “We have three positive cases of Covid-19 in the camp here, two players and an official.”

“There is daily screening. … Masha and Monyane reported high temperatures and positive saliva tests, and were then taken to do the nasal test … and they unfortunately tested positive for Covid-19. Mahlatsi is the latest player to go through the same process.”

He said the team has been quarantined until cleared to train, while they await more results from tests earlier on Sunday. “This unfortunate situation has made us miss our first intensive training session last night,” he added.

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto has reassured athletes that organisers have “a plan in place” to respond to an outbreak in the Village. On Sunday that message was reinforced by the IOC Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi, who claimed the risks of the virus running rampant in the village was “almost impossible”.

“Testing is the way to reduce any spread,” Dubi said. “When we have a positive case, it means action.

“We know there is no such thing as zero-risk, but at the same time the mingling and crossing of populations is very limited. With all the measures that are in place, we keep the risk to an absolute minimum level. What we have done since cases have appeared at the airport in the Village is make sure they are ring fenced, tested and do not provide a risk.”

The Games, postponed for a year due to the global pandemic, are being held mostly without spectators and under tight quarantine rules, with Tokyo currently in a state of emergency.

Infection rates are also rising in the Japanese capital after topping 1,000 new cases for four consecutive days. - Guardian

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