Tokyo’s dreams of a smooth preparation for Friday’s Olympic opening ceremony were shattered by a count of Covid-19 infections, an alleged rape, an intimidation scandal and a missing weight lifter.
Four days before the start of what the head of the International Olympic Committee described as “The most complex” games never held, organizers said 55 people have tested positive for the virus since July 1st.
Problems erupt after one contrast string for the Tokyo 2020 games beyond the pandemic, including corruption and sexism scandals, the removal of original plans for the national stadium and fears that the ferocious the heat of summer could endanger the lives of participants.
Those who tested positive for Covid-19 include athletes and officials, as well as media and entrepreneurs, groups that will create a projected entry into Japan of more than 56,000 people before and during the games.
Two South African football players tested positive on Sunday, becoming the first athletes at the Olympic Village to contract the virus. The British Olympic Association has also confirmed that six athletes and two staff members of its athletics team have been isolated following a positive Covid case on their flight to Japan. Coco Gauff, the American tennis player, he said on Twitter that she will not participate in the Games after testing positive.
The growing number of athletes who have canceled their attendance or have been forced into long quarantine periods as soon as the games are ready to begin has reinforced concerns that sporting competition will be very compromised from the pandemic.
Seiko Hashimoto, chairman of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, said at a weekend press conference that organizers are stepping up measures to prevent Covid clusters.
Public opposition at the games remained high and was purchased over the weekend by intensive television coverage of foreign visitors linked to the Olympics breaking restrictions, with some people seen drinking outside designated areas.
Antipathy to the event was amplified over the weekend following the arrest of a member of Uzbekistan’s Olympic staff on charges of serious sexual assault by a Japanese colleague.
Besides, four British and American entrepreneurs working as electricians for the games were arrested this month on drug charges.
Japan has introduced increasingly complex safeguards in its efforts to ensure its preparations for the games, which were already postponed for a year. Almost all events will be held without spectators and life in the Olympic Village will be governed by a strict rigor of regular testing and isolation.
Thomas Bach, president of the CIO, said last week that there was a “zero” risk that visiting athletes would get infections in the general Japanese population – remarks that have been widely criticized as being too confident in the face of growing foci.
Weekend flare-ups of pre-Olympic events included the resurfacing of a 1994 magazine interview with Keigo Oyamada, the composer known as “Cornelius” whose music is central to Friday’s opening ceremony. In the interview, Oyamada, 52, boasted of humiliating and intimidating a disabled student while he was at school.
Oyamada sorry in a statement posted online but refused to leave so close to the showcase event.
Separately, local authorities in central Japan are looking for Julius Ssekitoleko, the Ugandan heavyweight who has disappeared from his team’s training camp after leaving a note saying he wanted to find work in the country. The 20-year-old athlete failed to qualify for the games and was scheduled to return to Uganda this week.