South African footballers are the first athletes in the Olympic Village to test positive for COVID-19

TOKYO (AP) – Two South African footballers became the first athletes inside the Olympic Village to test positive for COVID-19, with the Tokyo Games opening on Friday.

A manager of the South African football team also tested positive, as did a fourth member of the South African contingent, the head coach of the rugby sevens team. pre-Games training camp in another Japanese city.

Organizers on Sunday confirmed positive tests for the two athletes in the Olympic Village in Tokyo, but did not identify them other than to say that they were not Japanese.

The South African Olympic Committee subsequently confirmed the three cases of COVID-19 in its football delegation to the village – two players and a video analyst. All three were now isolated in the Tokyo 2020 isolation center, the South African Olympic committee said. The players were defender Thabiso Monyane and midfielder Kamohelo Mahlatsi.

The rest of the South African football team had tested negative for the virus twice and “were closely following all recommendations from local health authorities,” the South African Olympic committee said.

South Africa are set to face Japan in their first men’s soccer match on Thursday at Tokyo Stadium.

South African rugby sevens coach Neil Powell tested positive on Saturday and is in an isolation center in the southern town of Kagoshima, where the team is preparing for the Olympics. Powell will have to remain isolated for 14 days and will miss the rugby sevens competition, South Africa’s national rugby body has said.

Powell had been vaccinated against COVID-19 with the Johnson & Johnson single-injection vaccine in South Africa on May 24, team spokesman JJ Harmse told The Associated Press.

South Africa’s Olympic and football officials did not immediately confirm whether the two footballers and officials who tested positive had been vaccinated. However, the South African Olympic Committee said in May that it would offer all of its Olympic athletes traveling to Tokyo the J&J vaccine.

Tokyo Olympics organizers also said on Sunday that another athlete had tested positive but that person was not residing in the Olympic Village. This athlete has also been identified as “non-Japanese”.

Also on Sunday, the first member of the International Olympic Committee was reported positive. He tested positive on Saturday upon entering an airport in Tokyo.

The International Olympic Committee confirmed the test and identified him as Ryu Seung-min from South Korea. He won an Olympic gold medal in table tennis at the 2004 Olympics.

He was reportedly held in solitary confinement. Reports indicated that he was asymptomatic.

IOC President Thomas Bach said last week that there was no risk of athletes in the village spreading the virus to the Japanese or other villagers.

Meanwhile, former distance runner Tegla Loroupe, chef de mission for the IOC’s Olympic Refugee Team, tested positive for COVID-19 before the team left their training base in Doha, in Qatar, for Tokyo, said two people with knowledge of his condition. the AP.

The team have delayed their arrival in Tokyo and many are expected to start arriving in the coming days.

Loroupe should stay put, according to the sources, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to reveal medical information.

Organizers say that since July 1, 55 people linked to the Olympics have reported positive tests. This figure does not include athletes or others who may have arrived for training camps but are not yet under the “jurisdiction” of the organizing committee.

The Tokyo Bay Olympic Village will be home to 11,000 Olympic athletes and thousands of support staff.

Tokyo reported 1,008 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the 29th day in a row that cases were higher than seven days earlier. It was also the fifth day in a row with over 1,000 reported cases.

The Olympics will open on Friday under a state of emergency in Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures. The emergency order lasts until August 22. The Olympics end on August 8.

Fans – local and foreign – have been banned from all Olympic events in Tokyo and the three neighboring prefectures. A few peripheral sites may allow a handful of local fans.

About 200 protesters gathered outside Shinjuku Station in central Tokyo on Sunday, holding up signs reading “No Olympics”. It was the latest in a series of small protests in recent months aimed at the Games.

“We are not just protesting against the Olympics,” protester Karoi Todo told the AP. “We oppose the government as a whole, ignoring human rights and our right to life. Infections are on the rise. Playing the Olympics is unforgivable.


Imray reported from Cape Town, South Africa.


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