TOKYO, July 16 (Reuters) – Australian tennis player Alex de Minaur tested positive for COVID-19 before leaving for the Tokyo Olympics, the Australian Olympic Committee announced on Friday, the last athlete to see his Olympic dream broken by the coronavirus pandemic.
American basketball star Bradley Beal’s Olympic dream was abruptly interrupted Thursday when USA Basketball announced that the Washington Wizards star would miss the Tokyo Games after entering coronavirus protocols at Las Vegas training camp .
Several cases of COVID-19 have surfaced over the past week involving athletes and others involved in the Games, which begin on July 23, but all have been either before departure or upon arrival in Japan.
Athletes began entering the Olympic Village on Tuesday and there were no reports of viral infections or scares inside the village. Olympic organizers say ‘bubbles’ will protect Games participants and Japanese public from spread of virus
Tokyo is in a state of emergency as COVID-19 cases peaked nearly six months ago, but most of the measures are voluntary and many people have grown weary of complying.
“We are very disappointed for Alex,” Australian chef de mission Ian Chesterman told reporters on Friday.
“He said he was shattered that he couldn’t come. It’s been a dream since he was a kid to represent Australia at the Olympics, but he sent his best wishes for the rest of the squad. “
The world No.15 returned two positive tests to Spain before flying to Japan, David Hughes, AOC chief medical officer, told a press conference.
Games organizers have pledged the Games, postponed last year due to the pandemic, will be “safe and secure” and have imposed strict testing regimes and limits on delegate activities in an attempt to allay concerns of the general public, many of whom wanted the Games canceled or postponed again.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said on Thursday there was a “zero” risk of Games participants infecting Japanese residents with COVID-19, as cases peaked in six months in the city host.
Bach said athletes and Olympic Games delegations had more than 8,000 tests for the coronavirus, resulting in three positive results. “The risk to other residents of the Olympic Village and the risk to the Japanese people are zero,” he added.
The Tokyo Games will be held without spectators at most venues, and authorities are urging the public to stay at home and watch on television, robbing Japan of its hopes for the Games with pomp and public spectacle.
Senior Japanese government spokesperson Katsunobu Kato declined to comment on a media report that Bach suggested to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday that if the coronavirus situation improves, spectators should be allowed to enter. the stadiums to watch the Games.
Bach was due to travel to Hiroshima, the first city to be atom bombed on Friday, to deliver what organizers called a message of peace on the first day of an “Olympic truce,” an ancient tradition of ceasing hostilities during the Games .
But the visit proved controversial, with some critics accusing the IOC of using it as a publicity stunt.
ROCKY VACCINATION PROCESS
Japan did not experience the explosive epidemic seen elsewhere, recording more than 820,000 cases and around 15,000 deaths. But the host city of Tokyo had 1,308 new cases on Thursday.
The city’s COVID-19 watchdog committee warned on the same day that if the pace of the contagion accelerates as people move and new, highly transmissible variants spread, the seven-day moving average could almost double to 2,406 in four weeks.
This would approach the highest levels ever seen during the pandemic.
The difficult rollout of immunization in Japan has also sparked frustration among the public and city officials who manage much of the program. An initially slow start gained momentum, only to encounter roadblocks due to supply bottlenecks.
Cabinet Minister Taro Kono, in charge of deployment, told an event hosted by Japan’s Kyodo news agency that local governments need to slow down their programs as supply is expected to remain limited in the coming months.
Many municipalities are angry that they had to delay or cancel shooting reservations after being ordered by the central government to hurry. “I’m sorry, but please wait a bit longer,” Kyodo said, quoting Kono.
reporting by Linda Sieg; Editing by Michael Perry
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