The first confirmed infections among Olympic Village athletes caused concerns about the spread of viruses during the event.
Two athletes living in the Olympic Village have become the first to test positive for COVID-19 just days before the Tokyo Games begin on Friday.
Olympic organizers confirmed the positive tests on Sunday by saying the two athletes were from the same country but were not Japanese, without revealing their names or other details.
Positive tests have caused even more concern about the virus infiltrating the virus tightly controlled the event, in particular, the Olympic Village, which was a bubble for some 11,000 athletes who have traveled to Japan for the games, which were postponed from 2020 amid the pandemic.
On Sunday, organizers reported 10 new cases related to the Olympics, including a third athlete who was not staying in the village, compared to 15 new cases the day before.
South Africa also reported three positive cases to its football squad: two players and an analyst. It was not immediately clear whether these cases were identified as part of the same testing program.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, the first member of the International Olympic Committee also tested positive for COVID-19 as he entered Tokyo airport.
The committee identified the member as Ryu Seung-min of South Korea, who won an Olympic gold medal in table tennis at the 2004 Olympics. He was reportedly kept isolated and asymptomatic.
“A bad signal”
Organizers say that since July 1, 55 people linked to the Olympics have reported positive evidence. However, the accounting does not include athletes or other people who have arrived for training but are not yet under the “jurisdiction” of the organizing committee.
With the majority of the Japanese public already against hosting the games amid the pandemic, the latest infections are likely to discourage citizens, said Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University in Japan.
“This is a bad sign because thousands of athletes are arriving this week and more than 50,000 Olympic-related guests will also be arriving, just as the Delta variant revolves around the world and vaccination is only 20% [of the population]”He told Al Jazeera.
“Not many things can be known … and the big question mark of these Olympics is that about 80 percent of Japanese people didn’t think it was a good idea to move forward,” he said.
Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures will be in a state of emergency when the games open on Friday. Fans, both from Japan and abroad, have banned all Olympic events in these areas.
The emergency order runs until August 22nd. The games close on August 8th.
Tokyo recorded 1,410 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, the highest in six months. It was the 28th consecutive day that the cases were higher than the previous seven days.