From track and field to track and field: How the Olympics were overshadowed by Covid

Union Jacks hang from the balconies of Team GB’s 12-story residential block in the Athletes’ Village.

The sun is shining, the mercury is rising and there is no lack of happy images on social networks.

At first glance, it is an Olympic Games like any other three days before the opening ceremony. It’s a second look where the problems start to emerge.

Behind the regimen of face masks and disinfectants that has become commonplace around the world, lies a current of extreme unease.

Athletes, trained to react coldly to the sound of the starter pistol, jump out of their skin every time a phone rings.

No matter the athleticism, athletics is the talking point of these ghost games. Athletes bred to emphasize the positive run a mile several mentions of the word.

There remains significant opposition to the Olympics from locals


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Fear has stalked competitors since the first cases of Covid were detected in the Village, where 11,000 athletes from 206 countries are about to mix in the ultimate human Petri dish.

There should be confidence in being double-pricked and having negative PCR test certificates coming out of your ears.

But there isn’t because it offers no protection against being identified as close contact and forced into isolation, potentially to the detriment of your Olympic dream.

President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach



“There are unfortunately consequences if [very strict playbooks] are not followed, even if it is not the fault of the person involved, explained yesterday the spokesperson of the IOC, Mark Adams.

“For that we can only apologize, but we need to make sure that these Games are safe and secure and we intend to make sure that is the case.”

Safe and Secure is a relative term as gaming-related infections have already reached 71 and there is a growing wave of hostility towards the organizers.

Yesterday, it was the turn of the media representatives, trapped in the tracing net through no fault of their own, to let off steam.

The BBC Scotland team were frustrated beyond measure at being ordered to spend the next 14 days in hotel quarantine.

“Athletes on the same flight have also been identified, but the rules say they don’t self-isolate,” correspondent Chris McLaughlin tweeted.



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Back in the village, beach volleyball coach Simon Nausch became the third member of the Czech delegation to test positive and come out of the bubble to self-isolate. Another day, another victim.

Yet so much money has been invested in the project – £ 11.3 billion according to the latest estimate – that it appears the IOC is too early to step aside.

And since only they can afford to go back, no very justified concern on the part of the local organizing committee will result in a cancellation.

Many in the Japanese capital will have welcomed Toshiro Muto, head of the Tokyo organizing committee, saying matches could still be called off if infections continue to rise.

But no one is holding their breath while waiting for this to happen.

Instead, the world’s most expensive sports show is set in the hope rather than expectation that all will be well.

Andy Murray visited the Olympic Village

IOC President Thomas Bach admits “sleepless nights” and you can bet your bottom dollar that he is not the only one in this case.

It is a huge gamble for those in charge and it is growing day by day.

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