A police officer helping with Japan’s Olympic Torch Relay has become the first participant related to the event to be diagnosed with COVID-19.
The man in his 30s tested positive for the virus after working on the relay in Kagawa prefecture on Japan’s southern island of Shikoku, Tokyo 2020 organisers said in a statement on Thursday.
The officer was guiding traffic in the town of Naoshima on Saturday and came down with a fever the following day, the Asahi Newspaper reported, citing organisers and prefectural police.
The man wore a mask and had no contact with runners, the report said.
Separately, two runners, a TV personality and a former Olympian dropped out of a relay event due to be held in the western prefecture of Tottori next month, public broadcaster NHK reported.
Public support for the postponed Olympics has waned amid concern the event will exacerbate COVID-19 infections, now battering the country in a fourth wave.
Japan’s government is expected to declare a state of emergency, the third in the past year, in the major population centres of Tokyo and Osaka this week.
The Games, already delayed by one year, are due to start in 92 days. Olympic and government officials have said further postponement of the Games is out of the question.
Currently, Japan is also struggling with a comparatively slow rollout of the vaccine which has so far approved only the Pfizer-BioNTech version.
About 25 percent of 4.8 million healthcare workers and slightly more than 13,000 elderly people have so far received a first vaccine dose.
Japan’s government says they will have sufficient supply by September to vaccinate everyone above 16 years of age in the country of 125 million, but a timeline for completing the vaccinations is not yet clear.
Despite the problems, Olympic organisers insist the Games can be held safely and have released virus rulebooks to allay public fears.
Athletes will not be required to quarantine or be vaccinated but will have to limit movements and be tested regularly.