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First case of coronavirus infection inside Olympic Village confirmed six days before Opening Ceremony


TOKYO - The first positive coronavirus case has been confirmed inside the Olympics Village just six days before the Opening Ceremony, officials said Saturday, amid growing fears about the spread of the virus during the Games.

Tokyo Olympics organizing committee officials declined to identify the person infected with the virus, but said the individual had traveled to Japan from overseas and was a "Games-concerned personnel," the Tokyo Olympic Committee confirmed Saturday. The person is now quarantining in a hotel room, according to officials, who confirmed the infection during a news conference on Saturday.

Thousands of athletes and journalists are now arriving in Tokyo for the Games which begin on July 23 amid a state of emergency due to rising coronavirus cases in the country's capital. Japan has barred all spectators from Olympic events in and around Tokyo in an effort to curb the spread of the virus, but public support for the Games remains lukewarm.

So far, 44 people affiliated with the Games have tested positive for coronavirus since the committee began tracking infections earlier this month. A member of the Nigerian delegation became the first Olympic visitor to be hospitalized with covid-19, according to local media reports. Olympic officials said Saturday that they are working to prevent any outbreaks.

Those arriving from overseas are tested for coronavirus before taking off and after landing in Tokyo. International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, who has been the subject of repeated criticism over the controversial pandemic Games, this week promised that there is "zero" risk that the virus would spread through the Olympic Village or beyond, citing the fact that everyone who arrives in Japan is tested for the virus.

Bach on Saturday drew a fresh round of ire amid reports that the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee plans to host a welcome party for Bach on Sunday evening with 40 guests, including high-profile politicians.

Critics responded online to reports of the welcome event by noting that the state of emergency urges members of the Japanese public not to gather in large numbers.

Among those invited are Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Tokyo Olympic organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto and former Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori, who resigned earlier this year over sexist remarks he made about women, according to a report Saturday by NHK.

Meanwhile, local officials in Osaka said the Ugandan athlete who had gone missing from a training camp there left a note that he intended to stay in Japan because of difficulties living back home, according to local media. The Ugandan athlete failed to show up to a coronavirus test on Friday and had been reported missing. Local officials said they found the note in his place of accommodation.

Published : July 17, 2021

By : The Washington Post · Michelle Ye Hee Lee