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First Case of Covid-19 Detected in Tokyo Olympic Village

Rosy Huong Rosy Huong

huongthhd@gmail.com

July 18, 2021 | 07:37

Tokyo Olympics organisers on July 17 reported the first case of Covid-19 at the athletes' village where most competitors will be staying, raising fresh doubts over promises of a "safe and secure" event.

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The Tokyo Olympics has registered its first COVID-19 case in the Olympic Village six days before the games open, organizers said Saturday. | REUTERS
The Tokyo Olympics has registered its first COVID-19 case in the Olympic Village six days before the games open, organizers said Saturday. Photo: REUTERS

The organizers confirmed that a visitor from abroad who is involved in organizing the games had tested positive during a routine test on Friday. The person’s nationality was not revealed due to privacy concerns, according to The Japan Times.

The person has been removed from the village where thousands of athletes and officials will reside during the games, spokesman for the Tokyo organizing committee Masa Takaya, spokesman told a news conference.

Right now this person is confined to a hotel,” Takaya said.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, facing unprecedented opposition to an Olympics days before it starts, acknowledged the concerns in the Japanese public but urged them to welcome the athletes.

Bach said he was hoping domestic sporting success could help shift the mood from what he said bordered on the aggressive to something more supportive.

"We are well aware of the scepticism a number of people have here in Japan. We ask and invite the Japanese people, humbly, to welcome and support the athletes from around the world," Bach was quoted by Reuters as saying.

We are also confident once the Japanese people will see the Japanese athletes successfully performing in the Olympic Games then the attitude may become less emotional."

Damage control

A man walks by logos of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, February 1, 2021. © Koji Sasahara, AP
A man walks by logos of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, February 1, 2021. Photo: AP

Originally intended to showcase Japan's recovery from its 2011 earthquake and nuclear disaster, the Tokyo Olympics has become an exercise in damage limitation.

Postponed for a year due to the global pandemic, it is being held mostly without spectators and under tight quarantine rules. Most athletes are starting to arrive for the Games, which run from July 23 through August 8.

The Japanese public has been wary about hosting the Games at all amid a resurgence in new coronavirus infections and worries that an influx of visitors may create a super-spreader event, straining an already-stretched medical system.

Only around 20% of the population is fully vaccinated.

Although Japan has escaped the explosive outbreaks of other nations, it has recorded more than 820,000 cases and about 15,000 deaths. The number of new cases in host city Tokyo, which is in its fourth state of emergency over the virus, has been over 1,000 for four straight days.

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto also acknowledged the public's concerns.

"I understand that there are still many worrying factors. Organisers must try to make sure that people understand that these games are safe and secure," she told the news conference.

So far, more than 40 people involved in the Games, including Japanese and foreigners, have tested positive for the virus.

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 the organisers were already finding rules difficult to enforce, Ugandan weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko went missing from his team's training site in Osaka on July 17.

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./.

A member of the Vietnamese sports delegation holds the national flag handed over by Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh (front, right) at the send-off ceremony on July 13 (Photo: VNA)
A member of the Vietnamese sports delegation holds the national flag handed over by Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh (front, right) at the send-off ceremony on July 13. Photo: VNA

Vietnam’s 43-member Tokyo Olympics 2021 delegation is set to leave for Tokyo on late July 18.

Among the members are 18 athletes: Nguyen Huy Hoang, Nguyen Thi Anh Vien (swimming), Thach Kim Tuan, Hoang Thi Duyen (weightlifting), Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuy (judo), Hoang Xuan Vinh (shooting), Nguyen Tien Minh, Nguyen Thuy Linh (badminton), Nguyen Thi Tam, Nguyen Van Duong (boxing), Le Thanh Tung, Dinh Phuong Thanh (gymnastic), Truong Thi Kim Tuyen (taekwondo), Do Thi Anh Nguyet, Nguyen Hoang Phi Vu (archery), Quach Thi Lan (athletics) and Luong Thi Thao, along with Dinh Thi Hao (rowing).

All the members have been injected with the required two doses of Covid-19 vaccine, and they will be tested twice within 72 hours prior to the departure.

To guarantee safety in Tokyo, the Vietnam delegation as well as others will only be allowed to travel to permitted accommodation and training facilities.

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Rosy Huong