TOKYO COVID CHAOS: Australian track and field Olympians locked down
The entire Australian track and field team has reportedly been forced into lockdown inside the Olympics Village as a result of a Covid-19 incident.
According to Channel 7’s Chris Reason, the Aussie athletics team received a message while many were training at the Olympic Stadium informing them to return to the village.
“Disturbing and worrying news,” Reason said.
“They got a message to return immediately to the Athletes’ Village to get out of where they were training and basically isolate themselves in their rooms until further notice.”
The report suggests an Australian athlete may have been a close contact of a member of the American athletics team who has contracted Covid-19.
American pole-vaulter Sam Kendricks was banned from competing at the Tokyo Games as a result of his positive test. He is reported to have been training with Aussie pole-vaulter Kurtis Marshall.
The Australian Olympic team has reportedly isolated the entire team and are in the process of conducting Covid-19 tests.
The athletics schedule begins from Friday morning, leaving the Aussie track and field team with an uncertain future.
The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) confirmed today that Pole Vaulter Sam Kendricks tested positive for the virus.
It said Kendricks had been transferred to a hotel to be placed in isolation.
The number of Covid-19 cases linked to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has risen to 198, according to Tokyo 2020 organisers today.
Four new cases were reported from Tokyo’s Olympic Village, bringing total infections connected to the village to 24.
Three of the new cases were identified as athletes and were all residents of the village.
The other new cases were identified as Games-related personnel and contractors.
Cases skyrocketing in Japan
Daily virus cases in Tokyo topped 3,000 for the first time on Wednesday, as several neighbouring regions weighed emergency restrictions to tackle a surge in infections.
Tokyo, which is already under a virus state of emergency as it hosts the Olympics, reported 3,117 cases, and Governor Yuriko Koike called on people to avoid “unnecessary, non-urgent outings.” Japan’s vaccination programme started slowly, and only just over 25 percent of the population has had two jabs.
“I want young people to get vaccinated. Young people’s behaviour is the key. I’m asking them please for their cooperation,” Koike said.
Japan has seen a comparatively small coronavirus outbreak, with around 15,000 deaths despite avoiding harsh lockdowns.
The state of emergency in place in Tokyo mostly limits bar and restaurant opening hours and bans them from selling alcohol, though experts have warned compliance is dropping and cases are surging among young people.
Cases are also rising elsewhere, and three regions surrounding Tokyo — Chiba, Saitama and Kanagawa — are now considering seeking a virus emergency from the national government.
The spike in cases is likely to increase scrutiny of the Olympic Games, with persistent concerns over whether the event could drive infections.
Olympic participants face various restrictions, including regular testing and limits on their movement.
And 124,358 tests of Olympic athletes and team officials this month revealed just 22 confirmed positive cases, according to Tokyo 2020 organisers. The figure does not include tests at airports.
Government spokesman Katsunobu Kato called on Japanese to avoid meeting and drinking in groups, suggesting people “watch the Olympic Games at home.” Fans are barred from almost all Olympic venues, though people have been showing up at competitions on public roads.
But Tokyo resident Takahiko Nimomoya said he was worried about the rising cases. “I think the government isn’t feeling the seriousness of the situation,” the 55-year-old told AFP.