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Covid watch: Olympic Village still safe, says IOC health advisor

Tokyo, July 19 (IANS) Though a total of 58 positive cases, including four athletes, have been reported from the Tokyo Olympic Games, the International Olympic Committee still considers the Games Village safe and cited it as success of robust methods put in place in the Japanese capital.

A reserve gymnast, associated with the USA women’s team, tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday. The name of the gymnast, who is a teenager, has not been revealed by the city of Inzai, Chiba Prefecture, where the team is having its pre-training camp ahead of the Olympics opening on July 23.

Two footballers from South Africa and a member of the Czech beach volleyball team have tested positive in the last two days.

However, on Monday, a health advisor for the IOC on Covid-19 countermeasures reassured that the Olympic village is safe despite more positive cases being reported.

Brian McCloskey, chair of an independent expert panel advising the IOC on Covid-19 countermeasures, told a press conference that individual infections are expected as the related people go through different layers of filtering. He, however, said that with all the countermeasures in place, particularly the robust testing measures and quick response of isolation, the infections will not pose risks to others.

The IOC Executive Board also discussed the Covid-19 countermeasures during its meeting on Monday and expressed satisfaction with the arrangements.

The Olympic Village, a complex of apartments and dining areas in Tokyo, will house 6,700 athletes and officials at its peak when the Games get underway on Friday.

McCloskey gave a firm “yes” when asked if the Olympic village is still safe with the rising number of virus infections.

“We see cases currently, having been tested before departure, and they’re not coming…we see people at the airport and they can get filtered there and they can get filtered when they are getting to the (Olympic) village,” he said.

“Each layer of filtering as a reduction of risk for anybody else…, and the numbers (of infections) we’re seeing is actually extremely low, and probably lower than we expected to see of anything.”

As for the case of the three members from South Africa’s Olympic football team, including two players, who have tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving at the village, McCloskey said they have been transferred to designated hotels to be taken care of, while the close contacts have been isolated.

The South African men’s football team is set to play against host Japan on July 22. Whether or not the close contacts of positive cases should be given green light to the playfield has been questioned widely, Xinhua reported.

McCloskey said that the focus will be on reducing the risks as much as possible by making sure the close contacts do not interact with others.

“They will be in an individual single room and use individual transport so even if they are infectious, they are not likely to infect others because they are separated,” he said.

He stressed that as required by the safety protocol made by the Games organisers, any close contacts to have competitions will be tested six hours prior to the start of the competitions, and the result will come through before they are allowed to be on the field of play.

“So there will be nobody (with) test PCR positive on the field of play,” he said.



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