Two athletes have tested positive for the coronavirus in the Tokyo Olympic Village after a team colleague was also infected, raising fears of a cluster just days before the opening ceremony.
The first cases involving athletes in the village were revealed yesterday, though the team was not identified.
That came a day after a member of their entourage returned the first positive test in the complex. News of the infections broke as competitors were flying in from all over the world for the pandemic-delayed Olympics.
Tokyo Olympics spokesman Masa Takaya said the three cases “were from the same country and sport.” They were isolated in their rooms and meals were being delivered to them, and the rest of the team had been tested.
The village will house 6,700 athletes and officials at its peak after the Games, delayed from last year, open on Friday.
The Games, largely behind closed doors, are unpopular in Japan.
And with Tokyo under a Covid emergency, the Games are taking place in stringent anti-coronavirus conditions with athletes tested daily. “We keep the risk to an absolute minimum level,” Games executive director Christophe Dubi said. “We can ensure that transmission between the various groups is almost impossible.”
But Tokyo residents were unsettled by the cases in the village.
“I’m amazed the virus even got inside there,” cosmetics company employee Riyoka Kasahara said.
Security guard Shotaro Watanabe added: “I question why we’re holding the Games now, especially when we are seeing variants that are more contagious.”
Fifty-five cases linked to the Games have been discovered this month, including four athletes.
They include South Korean International Olympic Committee member Ryu Seung Min, who tested positive on arrival in Japan and was placed in isolation.
Athletes are arriving to find a restrictive environment, with daily testing, distancing and no movement outside the Olympic “bubble.” They must leave Japan 48 hours after their events.
In another example of the difficulties, Australia’s athletics team were quarantined before departure after a member of their entourage returned an inconclusive test. The official later tested negative.
Australia has 194 athletes in the Olympic Village backed by support staff including psychologists to help them deal with the “extra strain” of anti-Covid measures.
Basketball player Liz Cambage pulled out of the Games over mental health fears.