1st Covid-19 infection in Tokyo Olympic village

TOKYO, 17 July 2021:

Tokyo Olympics has detected the first Covid-19 infection in the Olympic village, organisers said today – less than a week before the Games open in the Japanese capital.

The patient is a member of a foreign Olympic delegation currently in the village, where thousands of athletes and officials will reside during the Games. Other details of that person are shrouded in confidentiality due to privacy concerns.

It is the first confirmed positive case in the residential complex located on one of the artificial islands of Tokyo Bay.

The detection comes amid a resurgence of infections in Tokyo and six days before the opening ceremony.

Organisers are compiling information on the close contacts of the patients, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto told reporters. He said the infected person was isolated in a hotel as organisers firmly followed Covid-19 protocol within the village.

Athletes get tested daily, Muto said, summarising the preventive measures taken by organisers. He said they would continue following the protocol “so that athletes feel safe in the village.”

So far in July, a total of 44 people linked to the Games – including an athlete – have tested positive for the virus, figures from the organisers showed.

But it is the first infection in the residential complex for the Olympic athletes and officials.

The first confirmed Covid-19 patient among foreign athletes in Japan was a Ugandan coach who tested positive on his arrival in the country on June 19. Another infected person is an athlete who is staying in Izumisano in the west of the country.

The new case comes a week before the Olympic Games begin in the Japanese capital on July 23. It has raised concern about the anti-Covid-19 measures for the event.

Many Japanese have expressed concern the Games could act as a super-spreader as Tokyo sees a spike in Covid-19 cases.

Organisers maintain their stance on holding safe Games amid strict health restrictions, including the cancellation of the traditional Olympic torch relay to the Olympic Stadium at the opening ceremony.

Mesanwhile, an Ugandan Olympic athlete has gone missing from a hotel in Osaka and has left a note to state that he was running away because he wanted to work in Japan, according to probe details published in local media today.

Weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko, 20, participated in a pre-Olympic training camp. He was living in Izumisano in western Japan since June-end with other Ugandan Olympians.

The weightlifter purchased a Shinkansen bullet train ticket from a local station to Nagoya, about 200km away, soon after leaving his hotel room yesterday, Kyodo news agency said.

Ssekitoleko wrote that he did not want to return to Uganda because life in the African country was difficult. He urged his team members to hand over his belongings to his wife in Uganda, city officials said.

His whereabouts are unknown, even as a Ugandan representative contacted him by phone on yesterday evening. He said he was not in a situation to talk and hung up, the news agency said.

The officials, who supervised the stay of the athletes in Izumisano, noticed his absence when the weightlifter did not show up yesterday morning for the Covid-19 test. His colleagues saw him in his room the previous night.

A statement from Beatrice Ayikoru, chef de mission of the Ugandan delegation, said the athlete was due to head home with his coach next Tuesday.

“We, during our regular team briefings both in Uganda and in Japan, emphasised inter alia the need to respect the immigration regulations of Japan and not opt to leave the camp without authorisation,” the team chief said.

He said they were cooperating with local authorities to locate the missing athlete.