Two Olympic athletes test positive for COVID-19, despite “zero risk” claims

Two South African soccer players have tested positive for COVID-19 in Tokyo, the first confirmed cases among athletes in the Olympic Village.

On Thursday, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach assured Tokyo Governor Koike Yuriko that the Olympic Games pose zero risk to the Japanese community.

The stringent COVID-19 protocols will mandate the close and continuous monitoring of all athletes’ health throughout the games.

Pictured: IOC President Thomas Bach, Image: Reuters

Bach ensured Yuriko that: “the risk for the other residents of the Olympic village and risk for the Japanese people is zero.”

That statement has been questioned after the two cases were confirmed.

The players who contracted the virus were Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi. South Africa’s team video analyst, Mario Masha, also tested positive.

The South African Olympic Committee said they relocated to “the Tokyo 2020 isolation facility”.

The rest of the South African team have been placed in quarantine.

Team manager Mxolisi Sibam noted that the cases hindered the soccer team’s preparation for the games, who were set to play against Japan this Thursday.

This unfortunate situation has made us miss our first intensive training session last night”, he said.

Dr Phatho Zoni, the South African team’s chief medical officer, believes that the team had followed the necessary precautions before their departure.

Every member of Team South Africa required full medical clearance as an eligibility criteria,” she asserted.

In addition, they were encouraged to isolate for two weeks pre-departure, monitor health daily, report any symptoms, and produce two negative nasopharyngeal PCR tests taken within 96 hours of departure, as per Tokyo 2020 requirements.

The timing of the positive results suggests that the PCR test in these individuals was done during the incubation period of the infection, which is how they could be negative in South Africa and then positive in Japan.

They are now in isolation where they will continue to be monitored and will not be allowed to train or have any physical contact with the rest of the squad.”

On Sunday, the coach of South Africa’s rugby sevens team was also confirmed to have contracted the virus. He had not yet entered the Olympic village, but rather was residing at a pre-Olympic training camp in Kagoshima, Japan.

55 cases linked to the Olympics have been recorded since July 1, officials say. That number includes media, contractors, athletes and other personnel who contracted COVID-19.

However, it does not include individuals who arrived for training camps, but were not yet under the organising committee’s jurisdiction.