Olympic village tests first COVID case days before Tokyo Games

Chief organiser of the 2020 Games says officials are ‘doing everything’ to prevent outbreaks ahead of the opening.

The Games are scheduled to open on July 23, and will last until August 8 to be followed by the Paralympic Games [Behrouz Mehri/AFP]

The Tokyo Olympics has registered its first COVID-19 case in the Olympic Village six days before the Games open, the organisers have said.

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto confirmed on Saturday that a visitor from abroad who is involved in organising the Games had tested positive. He would not reveal the person’s nationality, citing privacy concerns.

Masa Takaya, a spokesman for the Tokyo organising committee, told a news conference that the first case in the Village was reported during the screening test.

The person has been removed from the Village where thousands of athletes and officials will reside during the Games. Organisers have put in place stringent measures to avoid coronavirus infections in the village.

“Right now this person is confined to a hotel,” Takaya said.

Seiko Hashimoto, the chief organiser of the Tokyo 2020 Games, added: “We are doing everything to prevent any COVID outbreaks. If we end up with an outbreak we will make sure we have a plan in place to respond.”

Reporting from Tokyo, Al Jazeera’s Fadi Salameh said the news prompted concern among the Japanese public despite the assurances by local authorities and the Games’ organisers that the event will be held in a safe environment.

People in Japan have been lukewarm about the Olympics amid a resurgence in new coronavirus infections and worries that an influx of foreign visitors may help turn the Tokyo Olympics into a super-spreader event, which in turn could put further strain on Japan’s already stretched medical system.

“It’s a closed village and it’s very hard to understand what is going on,” Salameh said, adding that about 18,000 people are expected to stay there.

“They are putting very strict measures and still an infection has been discovered, this shows that even with all these procedures there is a gap and that the infection could spread to other people there,” he added.

The Olympic Games have already been postponed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Games are scheduled to open on July 23 and will last until August 8 to be followed by the Paralympic Games.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies