South African footballers are first athletes to test positive for Covid inside Olympic village

·2-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Five days before the start of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, two South African footballers have become the first competitors to test positive for Covid-19 inside the athletes’ village.

The South African Football Association confirmed that Kamohelo Mahlatsi and Thabiso Monyane had both posted tested positive on Saturday, as did video analyst Mario Masha. The rest of the team is in quarantine and awaiting the results of more tests.

“We have three positive cases of Covid-19 in the camp here, two players and an official,” said South Africa team manager Mxolisi Sibam.

“There is daily screening which included taking temperature and saliva testing, Masha and Monyane reported high temperatures and positive saliva tests and were then taken to do the nasal test, which we all had initially taken and they unfortunately tested positive for Covid through that test. Mahlatsi is the latest player to go through the same process.”

Anti-Olympics sentiments have have mounted in the wake of a Covid-enforced state of emergency in Tokyo (REUTERS)
Anti-Olympics sentiments have have mounted in the wake of a Covid-enforced state of emergency in Tokyo (REUTERS)

On Sunday, organisers had reported 10 new Covid cases, including one other athlete from outside of the village. This adds to the 15 new cases reported on Saturday.

Tokyo is currently under a state of emergency which is scheduled to last until August 22, after the close of the Games on August 8.

Infection rates continue to rise in the city with more than 1,000 new cases reported for four consecutive days.

Citizens are largely unhappy that the sporting spectacle, already delayed by a year, is taking place. A recently published Ipsos poll found that 78 per cent of Japanese people are opposed to the Games.

Speaking on Saturday, the Games president Seiko Hashimoto said: “Athletes who are coming to Japan are probably very worried. I understand that.

“We are doing everything to prevent any Covid outbreaks. If we end up with an outbreak we will make sure we have a plan in place to respond.”

Strict bubble conditions have started to take their toll on the mental health of some athletes.

British weightlifter Sarah Davies likened conditions in the team hotel to a “prison yard”.

“So we can literally walk up and down this stretch between the hours of 7 am and 10 am, and that is the only time we’re allowed outside,” Davies said on her Instagram feed.

“Genuinely, feels like we’re in prison. But, hey, it is what it is... Welcome to Olympic Games, Covid edition.”

Australian basketball player Liz Cambrage has withdrawn from the event because of the psychological strain.

“No family. No friends. No fans. No support system outside of my team. It’s honestly terrifying for me,” Cambrage said.

By the time the Olympic flame is put out, many more athletes may yet see their hopes extinguished due to a positive Covid test or through mental burnout.

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