Two South African footballers have become the first athletes inside the Olympic Village to test positive for Covid-19, raising fears of a cluster just days before the opening ceremony.
The cases further darkened a gloomy atmosphere around the 2020 Games, which will finally open after a year’s delay on Friday but remain widely opposed by the Japanese public.
Organisers confirmed the positive tests on Sunday but didn’t identify the athletes other than to say they were non-Japanese. The South African Football Association later confirmed there were three Covid-19 cases in its delegation two players and a video analyst.
The players were defender Thabiso Monyane and midfielder Kamohelo Mahlatsi, SAFA said.
“The South African squad had been quarantined and was waiting for the results of further tests conducted on players and backroom staff on Sunday,” team manager Mxolisi Sibam said in a statement.
South Africa are due to play Japan in their first game of the men’s football competition on Thursday at Tokyo Stadium.
South Africa’s rugby sevens coach Neil Powell also tested positive and is in isolation in the Japanese town where the squad are training.
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,” said chief medical officer Phatho Zondi.