Aussie official in quarantine in fresh Olympics Covid scare

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Pictured here, members of Australia's Olympic team after arriving in Tokyo for the Games.
Australian stars are seen here at the airport in Tokyo after arriving to compete in the Olympic Games. Pic: Getty

A staff member of the Australian Olympic team has become wrapped up in the latest drama to rock the Tokyo Games after testing positive for Covid-19.

The Australian athletics team member has been placed into quarantine, with the incident coming after a number of other positive tests have left athletes and organisers a little nervous.

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Australian team chef de mission Ian Chesterman said in Tokyo that the staff member returned a weak positive test.

Two further tests have come back negative.

Tests later on Sunday are expected to confirm the person is not infected and the team's Tokyo preparations in Cairns are going ahead as planned.

Australian Olympic team chef de mission Ian Chesterman revealed on Sunday that the person had tested negative in Melbourne before travelling on Thursday to join the athletics team at its Cairns training camp.

A further test in Cairns produced the inconclusive result, prompting all members of the athletics team to be confined to their rooms for several hours until Saturday evening.

A track meeting planned for Sunday is now going ahead.

"The subsequent inconclusive test on entering the athletics camp triggered two further, more extensive tests to confirm the staff member's negative status," Chesterman said.

"Athletics Australia has been working closely with Queensland Health and the staff member has been placed in quarantine, pending a final confirmation of their negative status expected later today."

Australian Olympic team doctor David Hughes said the athletics team applied an abundance of caution once the inconclusive test result became known.

"They just took the approach (that) they put everyone in their rooms ... is my understanding," Dr Hughes said.

"The whole athletics team went into their room and stayed from when it was detected ... midday yesterday, until last night.

"They've been informed it's now okay for them to proceed with their activities today in the track meet."

Chesterman also said the staff member had not visited any identified exposure sites in Melbourne before flying to Cairns and had followed all appropriate procedures.

The first group from the Cairns athletics camp will fly to Tokyo on July 26.

The bulk of the Australian athletics team is at a pre-departure training camp in Cairns, with other members of the squad in Europe and Sydney.

Two days ago, tennis star Alex de Minaur had to pull out of the Games after testing positive to coronavirus.

Alex de Minaur (pictured) has withdrawn from the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for Covid-19. (Getty Images)
Alex de Minaur (pictured) has withdrawn from the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for Covid-19. (Getty Images)

Ove the weekend, IOC chief Thomas Bach urged the Japanese people to get behind the Tokyo Olympics as the first coronavirus case hit the Games Village, prompting fresh jitters about the health risks posed by the giant event.

A Czech Olympic team staff member has also tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Tokyo on a charter flight from Prague.

Czech Olympic officials said on Saturday that all their athletes were healthy and in the Olympic Village.

The unnamed staff member - who had two negative tests before departure and had no symptoms - is now in isolation along with several close contacts from the plane.

"Within two hours we implemented an action plan and we prepared individual rooms for all athletes and members of the escort from the plane who arrived in the village," Czech Olympic Committee sports director Martin Doktor said.

"In any case, the training activities and plans of the athletes are not limited in any way."

Several competitors have expressed concern over conditions at the Olympics, which are marked by ubiquitous temperature checks, hand sanitiser and daily testing.

Pictured here, Australian athletes arrive in Tokyo for the Games.
Aussie athletes are seen here arriving in Tokyo for the Games. Pic: Getty

Olympics boss urges locals to support Games

Organisers pledged full transparency about cases in the Village, and urged people taking part in the Games to stick by the anti-coronavirus rules.

The IOC president, who has faced scattered protests since arriving in Japan, appealed to the public to throw their support behind the athletes despite fears of a spike in cases as thousands of international visitors arrive.

Bach said he was "very well aware of the scepticism" surrounding the postponed 2020 Games, which have attracted low opinion-poll ratings for months.

"I appeal to the Japanese people to welcome these athletes here for the competition of their life," Bach added, insisting the Tokyo Olympics were safe, calling them the "most restrictive sports event... in the entire world".

"I would like once more to ask and to invite the Japanese people, humbly, to welcome and support the athletes from around the world," he added.

Bach's plea comes just six days before the opening ceremony for the Games, which will take place in biosecure "bubble" conditions and largely without fans.

As well as the first Covid-19 case at the athletes' village, 14 other new cases have been connected to the Games that begin next week, raising fresh doubts over promises of a "safe and secure" event.

However, Bach said just 15 people had tested positive out of 15,000 arrivals in July, citing it as proof that the strict anti-coronavirus measures, including daily tests for athletes, are working.

with agencies

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