As the coronavirus pandemic delayed the 2020 Olympics and caused major disruptions for more than a year, the chief of the Tokyo Olympics tried to reassure “worried” athletes on Saturday as the Games Village was hit by its first coronavirus case, six days before the pandemic-delayed event opens.
According to another news agency that at least 15 people have tested positive for coronavirus, including first case — a visitor from abroad — at Tokyo Olympics athletes’ village, the organisers said. The rest are two members of the media, seven contractors and five members of the Games personnel.
“There was one person in the Village. That was the very first case in the Village that was reported during the screening test,” Masa Takaya, spokesman for the Tokyo organising committee, told a press conference.
The positive test for an unnamed person in the Village heightened worries over biosecurity as thousands of competitors pour into Japan for the Games, which will largely take place without spectators.
"Right now this person is confined to a hotel," Takaya said.
A man wearing a face mask walks at the Main Press Centre during the coronavirus outbreak in Tokyo. Reuters
The person, whom organisers refused to identify, has been removed from the Village where thousands of athletes and officials will reside during the Games.
About 11,000 athletes and tens of thousands of officials and media are flying in for the Games, which open on Friday in the face of widespread public concern over a possible surge in infections.
“We are doing everything to prevent any coronavirus outbreaks. If we end up with an outbreak we will make sure we have a plan in place to respond," said Seiko Hashimoto, the chief organiser of the Tokyo 2020 Games.
A worker prepares the netcam at the 3x3 basketball venue for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Reuters
The capital remains under a coronavirus state of emergency and has in recent days recorded its highest case numbers since January.
No details were given about the positive test in the Village, one of 15 Games-related cases revealed on Saturday — the highest figure this month. Japanese media said the infected person came from abroad.
The Olympics were postponed for a year in March last year as COVID-19 spread around the world.
Anyone wanting to support athletes has been told to clap rather than cheer or sing. Sponsors are cancelling or scaling back booths and events tied to the Games, frustrated by the "very last-minute" decisions by organisers, sources said.
The Japanese capital and Olympic host city Tokyo is on track to report a record number of coronavirus cases, days after the Olympics began, exceeding the earlier record of 2,520 cases from Jan. 7.
Nippon Television reported that the cases in Tokyo city hit a record high near 4,000 on Thursday as two people attending the Tokyo Olympics from overseas have been admitted to hospital with COVID-19.
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