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Six British athletes have been forced to quarantine in Tokyo after being deemed close contacts of an individual who tested positive for coronavirus following their flight to Japan.
The six, all members of the athletics team, plus two support staff, are now isolating in their respective hotel rooms at Team GB’s training camp in Yokohama.
In addition, the PA news agency understands that two members of Team GB’s HQ team are in isolation in the Olympic Village following close contact with another individual who tested positive in Japan, taking the total number of affected Team GB individuals to 10.
The British Olympic Association confirmed that the group of eight have all tested negative for the virus and will continue to follow the direction of Games and Japanese government officials. It is understood the same applies in the further two cases.
The BOA said in a statement: “The British Olympic Association can confirm that six athletes and two staff members from the athletics team, who through no fault of their own have been identified as close contacts of an individual – not from the Team GB delegation – who tested positive for Covid-19 following their inbound flight on 16 July 2021.
“This was identified through Tokyo 2020’s reporting service and the group have since started a period of self-isolation in their rooms at the BOA’s Preparation Camp, in line with Tokyo 2020’s Playbook protocols.
“The group all tested negative at the airport and have continued to test negative upon arrival into the country. They are under the supervision of the Team GB medical team, led by chief medical officer Dr Niall Elliott.
“The BOA continue to operate extensive Covid-19 testing protocols and mitigation measures and follow all respective health guidance from the Government of Japan, TOCOG, the IOC and our local partners in Japan.”
The news is certain to adversely affect preparations for the team, the majority of which is staying in Yokohama alongside athletes from other sports including swimming, boxing and gymnastics prior to their gradual move into the Olympic Village prior to their respective competitions.
Team GB chef de mission Mark England said: “This is disappointing news for the athletes and staff, but we absolutely respect the protocols in place.
“We will offer them every support during this period and we are hopeful that they will be able resume training again soon.”
The news comes on the same day that two South African football players became the first to test positive for the virus within the Olympic Village, and that 17-year-old American tennis player Coco Gauff announced that she would not be participating after testing positive for Covid-19.
And it comes amid mounting scepticism in Tokyo – which has recorded over 1,000 new cases for the fourth straight day – over International Committee Olympic president Thomas Bach’s insistence that the risk of the Japanese public being infected with the virus by a Games participant is “zero”.
The duration of enforced isolation for a person deemed to be a close contact of a positive case is determined on a case-by-case basis by the Japanese government.
Last week, the South African rugby sevens team were forced to quarantine for four days due to being considered close contacts of a passenger who tested positive on their flight to Tokyo.
Although 17 of the 18 affected personnel were subsequently allowed to continue to their training camp, it is understood that one of their number remains in quarantine.
The affected footballers, named by the South African Football Association on Sunday as Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi, were among 10 new Games-related cases announced on Sunday.
A Games official was the first individual based in the Village to test positive on Saturday, on the same day Bach insisted the Games will be “safe and secure”.
Also among the 10 new positive cases connected to the Games is a third athlete who tested positive on arrival in Japan. The other positive cases were five ‘Games-related personnel’, one member of the media, and a contractor.
A third, non-playing member of the South African squad also tested positive upon arrival in Tokyo.
Team manager Mxolisi Sibam said in a statement: “Masha and Monyane reported high temperatures and positive saliva tests, and were then taken to do the nasal test… and they unfortunately tested positive for Covid-19.”
In a press conference on Sunday, IOC executive director Christophe Dubi appeared to backtrack on Bach’s bullish optimism, admitting: “There is no such thing as zero risk.
“At the same time, mingling with the population is incredibly limited. We can ensure that the transmission between the various groups is almost impossible.
“With all the measures that are in place, including the separation at the Olympic Village, we keep the risk at an absolute minimal level.”
Meanwhile, the IOC Refugee Team has delayed its arrival in the Japanese capital from its training camp in Qatar after a member of its delegation tested positive.