Olympic athlete tests positive for Covid-19 on eve of Tokyo Games

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Airport operations staff, pictured here taking photos with the Olympic rings at Tokyo international airport.
Airport operations staff take photos with the Olympic rings at Tokyo international airport. (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)

The Tokyo Olympics has been rocked by Covid-19 chaos just seven days out from the opening ceremony.

Organisers announced on Thursday that an Olympic athlete and two others linked to the Tokyo Games have tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Japan.

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The three people, who were not identified, were among seven new cases - including four contractors who are residents of Japan - reported by the Tokyo local organising committee.

The athlete, who tested positive on Wednesday, went into 14-day quarantine. 

Seven days before the opening ceremony on July 23, it was unclear if the athlete must miss their event.

One staffer classed as “Games-concerned personnel” - a category including the International Olympic Committee, sports governing bodies, Olympic teams, sponsors and official broadcasting staff - tested positive on Tuesday and is also in quarantine for two weeks.

The seven cases lifted the total to 27 Covid-19 infections of Games participants and workers in Tokyo since July 1, organisers said.

However IOC president Thomas Bach says there is "zero" risk of Games participants infecting Japanese residents as cases hit a six-month high in the host city.

"Risk for the other residents of Olympic village and risk for the Japanese people is zero," he said.

Bach said the three cases have been placed in isolation and their close contacts are also in quarantine.

Tokyo sees biggest daily rise in infections for months

Just over a week before the July 23 opening ceremony, Tokyo reported 1308 new Covid-19 infections on Thursday, its highest daily tally since late January.

Postponed last year due to the pandemic, the Summer Olympics have little public support in Japan amid widespread fears about a further spread of coronavirus.

Critics on Thursday submitted a petition against the Games that has garnered more than 450,000 signatures this month.

IOC President Thomas Bach, pictured here speaking to the media in Tokyo.
IOC President Thomas Bach speaks to the media in Tokyo. (Photo by KIMIMASA MAYAMA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Organisers have imposed Olympics "bubbles" to prevent further transmissions of Covid-19, but medical experts are worried they might not be sufficiently tight.

A number of infections have emerged among visiting athletes and people involved with the Games.

Eight members of the Kenyan women's rugby team had been classified as close contacts of a passenger on their flight to Tokyo who had tested positive for coronavirus, their squad said.

The athletes had been isolated as a precaution, but had all tested negative on arrival and were expected to link up with the rest of the players at their residential training camp in Kurume on Friday.

Tokyo entered its fourth state of emergency earlier this week amid a rebound in Covid-19 cases that pushed Games organisers to ban spectators from nearly all venues.

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