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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Takashi Nakamichi

Two athletes infected with COVID in Tokyo Olympic Village

Two South African footballers tested positive for COVID-19 at the Tokyo Olympic Village, where athletes are housed during the competition.

The cases are the first reported among athletes at the village, according to a document from Tokyo’s Olympic-organizing committee on Sunday. There are 55 positive cases tied to the Tokyo Games.

The games, which start July 23, will be the first to be held without spectators. Tokyo is grappling with a surge in coronavirus cases which prompted the government to declare a fourth state of emergency in the capital earlier this month. The city reported 1,410 new infections on Saturday, the most since Jan. 21.

Three members of South Africa men’s under-23 soccer team — including players Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi — have tested positive and are isolating, the nation’s football association said in a statement. The nation’s Rugby Sevens coach Neil Powell also had a positive test.

Pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to meet his pledge to hold a “safe and secure” Olympics. A public survey conducted Saturday by the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper and the Social Survey Research Center shows that 65% of respondents doubt Suga can deliver on that promise, as compared with 19% who said otherwise. Also, 48% said they are in no mood to enjoy the games.

Many Japanese oppose holding the Olympics out of fear it could become a superspreader event in a country that trails its Group of Seven peers in vaccinations. About 20% of the population has been fully inoculated, according to Bloomberg’s COVID vaccine tracker.

International Olympics Committee President Thomas Bach recently said very strict anti-COVID measures for athletes and officials “are enforced and they are working.”

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