Early infections confirmed among athletes at the Olympic Village stoked concerns about the spread of viruses during the event.
Two athletes living in the Olympic Village became the first to test positive for COVID-19 a few days before the Tokyo Games began on Friday.
Olympic organizers confirmed positive tests on Sunday, saying the two athletes were from the same country but were not Japanese, without revealing their names or other details.
Positive tests have also raised concerns about the virus infiltrating controlled well event, in particular, the Olympic Village, destined to be a bubble for about 11,000 athletes who traveled to Japan for the games, which have been postponed since 2020 amid the pandemic.
Sunday’s organizers reported 10 new cases connected to the Olympics, including a third athlete who was not in the country, up from 15 new cases a day earlier.
South Africa have also said three positive cases on their football team – two players and an analyst. It was not immediately clear whether these cases were identified as part of the same trial program.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, the first member of the International Olympic Committee also tested positive for COVID-19 while entering a Tokyo airport.
The committee identified the member as Ryu Seung-min of South Korea, who won an Olympic gold medal in table tennis at the 2004 Olympics. He would have been kept isolated and was asymptomatic.
“A bad sign”
Organizers say that as of July 1, 55 people linked to the Olympics have reported positive tests. However, the accounts do not include athletes or others who may be coming for training camps but who are not yet under the “jurisdiction” of the organizing committee.
With the majority of the Japanese public already against hosting the games amid the pandemic, the latest infections are likely to spread to citizens as well, said Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University in Japan.
“This is a bad sign that thousands of athletes are coming this week, and there will also be more than 50,000 Olympic guests coming as well, as the Delta variant revolves around the globe and vaccination here is only 20 percent [of the population], ”He told Al Jazeera.
“A lot of things can’t be known … and the big question mark about these Olympics is that about 80 percent of the Japanese people didn’t think it was a good idea to go ahead,” he said.
Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures will be under a state of emergency when the games open Friday. Fans, both from Japan and abroad, are banned from all Olympic events in these areas.
The emergency order lasts until August 22nd. The games close on August 8th.
Tokyo registered 1,410 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, the highest in six months. It was the 28th straight day that the houses were higher than seven days ago.