Vaccinated Ugandan Olympian tests Covid-19 positive in Japan

TOKYO, 20 June 2021:

A member of the Uganda Olympic team has tested coronavirus positive at an airport quarantine station in Japan and was sent to a quarantine facility in Tokyo, authorities said today.

It is the first confirmed Covid-19 infection detected among foreign athletes and participants for the Games.

The Sudanese team was the second group of foreigners to arrive in Japan for the Olympics, which open July 23.

Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister in charge of the anti-pandemic efforts, told Japanese state broadcaster NHK the authorities detected the infection after a plane carrying the nine-member Sudanese team touched down at Narita Airport near Tokyo yesterday.

Citing officials, NHK said the players and staff were vaccinated before they came to Japan.

“But one member of the group tested positive for the coronavirus during a screening at the airport. That individual is staying at a government-designated facility.”

The Ugandan athletes will stay at a training facility in Osaka – they will participate in boxing, weightlifting, and swimming events. The other eight members of the Ugandan group will be quarantined at other facilities, NHK said.

The athletes carried Covid-19 negative certificates issued 72 hours before their travel to Japan. The athletes also underwent a double test for the virus after they arrived in Japanese territory. That is as per the strict anti-contagion guidelines imposed by organisers.

Before the Ugandans, the Australian women’s softball squad arrived on June 1.

Foreign travellers to Japan require a two-week quarantine after their arrival. But the authorities have exempted Olympic teams from such border controls if they test negative and comply with restrictions on their activities and travel.

The exemption will let them train and prepare for the Games. The Tokyo Games will be held in a “bubble” format and will not have foreign spectators.

The government has limited the entrance of spectators in stadiums to a maximum of 10,000 people.

The organising committee for the Games Friday said it planned to allow local spectators into stadiums despite Japanese medical experts advising against it.

The authorities will formalise the decision to allow spectators into stadiums tomorrow.

Meanwhile, athletes for the Tokyo Olympics will get condoms with a rider not to use them to comply with anti-Covid measures during the Games, organisers said today.

Takashi Kitajima, general manager of the Athletes Village, told reporters the distribution of condoms was to raise awareness about sexually transmitted diseases like HIV.

Kitajima said the organisers would ask athletes to take the rubber protections to their home countries rather than using them in the village.

Condoms were distributed to athletes at the quadrennial sporting event after the request by the International Olympic Committee since the 1988 Seoul Games.

Kitajima said the committee had requested the continued distribution during Tokyo Olympics despite the pandemic.

The organisers plan to distribute 150,000 condoms to more than 11,000 athletes for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the Japanese capital, media reports said.

The athletes taking part in the Games must comply with a guidebook of anti-virus measures that include social distancing and other prohibited behaviours, including hugging, shaking hands and other forms of physical contact.

However, they have not mentioned sex in the rule book.

Failure to comply can cause disqualification from the Games or even expulsion from the country, depending on the severity of the offence.

The hosts announced today that alcohol would be allowed inside the Athletes Village. But it can be consumed in private and indoor spaces and not in parks or outdoor places, Kitajima said.

Athletes will have to eat and drink alone in line with social distancing measures, he added.