Infected Olympians cast doubt on competition schedule and virus response

Japan Times -- Jul 21
What began as a trickle of infections among athletes and staff has turned into a steady stream just days before the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games, with COVID-19 threatening to derail the competition schedule and casting doubt on the ability of organizers to handle the situation if it continues to worsen.

Not only is it unclear whether athletes who test positive will be allowed to compete after they recover, the stark discrepancy between protocols for close contacts among participants in the Games and those for the rest of Japan is drawing criticism.

Organizers insist the “bubble” meant to protect residents from athletes, staff and other people connected to the Games — and vice versa — remains intact, even as the list of cases continues to grow with less than two days until the opening ceremony on Friday evening.

“There will be nobody who tests PCR positive who will be on the field of play,” Brian McCloskey, chair of the International Olympic Committee’s panel in charge of coronavirus countermeasures during the Tokyo Games, said at a news conference Monday, referring to polymerase chain reaction tests.

As of Wednesday, 75 cases of COVID-19 had been reported among athletes and staff, including more recently a volunteer — the first since organizers began compiling figures on July 1.

The Chilean Olympic Committee announced Wednesday that one of its athletes — female taekwondo athlete Fernanda Aguirre — will forfeit after testing positive, the first athlete to withdraw from the Games due to the virus.

Infections have been detected among participants before their scheduled departure from their home country, after they landed in Japan and after they arrived at the Olympic Village, a 44-hectare site on Tokyo’s Harumi Waterfront where thousands of athletes will spend most of their time.

- Japan Times