A member of Uganda’s Olympic squad has become the first to test positive for Covid-19 on arrival in Japan for the competition, due to start on 23 July.
The news of the positive test comes as organisers of the Olympics are expected to meet later today (21 June) to decide whether and to what extent domestic spectators will be allowed at the Tokyo Games, with health experts warning that big crowds risk fuelling a resurgence in COVID 19 infections.
The unnamed Ugandan was part of a nine-member squad who had all been fully vaccinated, reports said. It is understood that the group had also tested negative before leaving Uganda.
However, one of them tested positive on arrival at Tokyo’s Narita airport on Saturday, and was quarantined at a government-designated facility, Japanese officials were quoted by local media as saying.
The rest of the squad left by chartered bus for Osaka, in western Japan, where they are to train ahead of the Games.
Japan is moving ahead with staging the multi-billion-dollar Games, which were delayed by a year due to pandemic, despite public opposition and the warnings from health officials.
Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto has said she was eyeing a cap of 10,000 people per venue. Spectators from overseas have already been banned from the event.
Officials are separately considering allowing as many as 20,000 people to attend the opening ceremony on July 23 as spectators, in part due to an expected increase in the number of people involved with the Games who would no longer be allowed on the field, media reported.
A final decision on domestic spectators is expected to be made at the meeting on Monday among Tokyo 2020 organisers, the International Olympic Committee, International Paralympic Committee, Japanese government and host city Tokyo.
Japan’s Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, said on Monday he would not rule out holding the Summer Olympics without spectators if the capital was under a state of emergency due to COVID-19 worries.
“In the event a state of emergency was declared then we can’t rule out not having spectators,” Suga told reporters during a tour of vaccination sites in Tokyo.
The fact that the Games are going ahead will come as a huge relief to the (re)insurance market, given that recent estimates of possible insured losses in the event of cancellation have suggested a market-wide loss in the region of $2-3 billion.
Japan’s public remains opposed to holding the Games this summer, a June 19-20 poll from Asahi News Network (ANN) found, with 65% of respondents saying they wanted the event postponed again or cancelled.
Nearly 70% of respondents said they thought the Games would not be held safely and securely, as advocated by the government and Olympic organisers, the poll showed.