COVID-19 cluster at Olympic hotel as Tokyo cases rise

A COVID-19 cluster at a Japanese hotel where dozens of Brazil’s Olympic team members stay has raised new concerns over infections at the Tokyo Games, as the host city recorded its highest number of new cases in six month.

Just over a week before the opening ceremony, the spread of infections highlights the risks of hosting the world’s largest sporting event during a pandemic, even without spectators at sports venues.

Seven hotel staff in Hamamatsu city, southwest of Tokyo, have tested positive for the coronavirus, a city official said.

But a Brazilian Olympic delegation of 31, which includes judo athletes, is in a “bubble” in the hotel and separated from other guests and has not been infected.

The Russian women’s rugby sevens team were also in isolation after their masseur tested positive for COVID-19, the Moscow RIA news agency reported – as was the South African men’s rugby team after a case on their inbound flight.

Highly contagious viral variants have fueled the latest wave of infections, and failure to vaccinate people faster has left Japan’s population vulnerable.

Tokyo, where a state of emergency was imposed until the end of the Games on August 8, recorded 1,149 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest number since January 22. [nL1N2OQ0I3]

Authorities have imposed Olympic “bubbles” in an effort to keep COVID-19 from entering, but medical experts fear they may not be completely sealed, as the movement of staff serving the games may create opportunities for the games. ‘infection.

The Olympics, postponed last year as the virus spread around the world, lost a lot of public support in Japan over fears it could spark a wave of infections.

International Olympic Committee (

) President Thomas Bach congratulated the organizers and the Japanese people for hosting the event amid the pandemic.

“It will be a historic Olympic Games (…) for the way the Japanese people have overcome so many challenges over the past two years,” Bach told reporters after meeting Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

When Japan was awarded the Games in 2013, they were expected to be a celebration of recovery from a deadly earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident in 2011.

Japanese leaders had also hoped that the rescheduled Games this year would help mark a global victory over the coronavirus, but many countries are now grappling with new outbreaks of infections.

Mixed global interest

Many Olympic delegations are already in Japan and several athletes have tested positive upon arrival.

The refugee Olympic team delayed their trip to Japan after a team officially tested positive in Qatar, the International Olympic Committee said.

Twenty-one members of the South African rugby team were in isolation as they were said to have been in close contact with the case during their flight, said the city of Kagoshima, which hosts the team.

They were due to stay in the city from Wednesday, but that plan has been put on hold until further notice from health officials, city official Tsuyoshi Kajihara said.

Global interest in the Tokyo Olympics is muted, an Ipsos poll in 28 countries showed, amid concerns over COVID-19 in Japan and withdrawals of top athletes.

The poll released on Tuesday found a global average of 46% interest in the Games, and in Japan 78 % of people went ahead against the Games.

With spectators banned from all Olympic events in Tokyo and surrounding areas, officials are asking people to watch TV and limit their movements to a minimum.

Among those not competing in Japan is former world number one golfer Adam Scott, who questioned whether hosting the Olympic Games in Tokyo was a responsible decision.

Switzerland’s Roger Federer has become the latest tennis big name to retire, the 20-time Grand Slam champion saying on Tuesday he injured his knee during the grass season.

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