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Tokyo Olympics Committee Announces 1st Positive Case of COVID-19 in Olympic Village

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 17, 2021

CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP via Getty Images

The Tokyo Olympics' organizing committee announced Saturday the Olympic Village has recorded its first positive COVID-19 test result.

"We are sparing no efforts [to keep the Olympic Village safe]," committee president Seiko Hashimoto told reporters.

CNN's Junko Ogura reported organizers said the person was a "non-resident of Japan who is involved in organizing the Games" but provided no further information, citing privacy concerns.

The positive test comes after a week in which several athletes and staff members either tested positive for COVID-19 or were deemed a close contact of someone who did before entering the Olympic Village ahead of Friday's opening ceremony, per Julian Ryall of the South China Morning Post.

"This is extremely troubling because I am fairly sure that these cases are just the tip of the iceberg," Kazuhiro Tateda, the president of the Japan Association of Infectious Diseases, said.

A recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Tokyo led Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to declare a state of emergency until at least Aug. 22. The Olympics run through Aug. 8, followed by the Paralympics from Aug. 24 through Sept. 5.

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said the Games would be run safely and promised "not to bring any risk" to the country, per Ryall.

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"We are making all our efforts and the Japanese people have all our commitment to contribute in the best way to fight this virus and not to bring any risk to the Japanese people," Bach said.

Yet, between Japan's already rising case numbers and athletes from around the globe traveling to the country amid the increasing prevalence of the Delta variant, experts who spoke with Time Magazine said there's "no zero-risk scenarios" for holding the Games.

"As far as I know, there is no risk-assessment report or result," virologist Hitoshi Oshitani, who helped create Japan's COVID-19 strategy, said. "So we do not have any concrete material to judge if the risk is acceptable for Japan and for other countries."

After the Olympics, the athletes will return to their over 200 different home countries, which could extend the impact beyond the two-week international sporting event.

The Games were previously delayed from last year because of the pandemic.

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