Covid-19 cases rising at Tokyo Olympics as Simone Biles and team leave Olympic Village

Mildred Europa Taylor July 21, 2021
Simone Biles waves to the crowds after she and her teammates landed in Tokyo ahead of the Olympics. Photo: AP

The U.S. women’s gymnastics team will not be staying in Tokyo’s Olympic Village amid Covid-19 concerns. The coach of Simone Biles and Jordan Chiles said the team will be staying at a nearby hotel. The coach, Cecile Landi, disclosed this a day before a member of the team tested positive for COVID-19.

“It was also a decision that we all made together,” coach Landi wrote on Twitter Sunday. “We know it isn’t ideal during a pandemic. We feel like we can control the athletes and our safety better in a hotel setting!”

According to NBC News, USA Gymnastics said Tuesday that the squad had always planned to stay at a hotel instead of the sealed-off, 109-acre waterfront section of Tokyo that has been reserved for the athletes competing in the Games. Gymnast Kara Eaker tested positive at the training camp in Narita, some 30 miles east of the Japanese capital. Both Eaker and fellow alternate, Leanne Wong, have been placed in quarantine.

“Tokyo 2020 is not in a position to comment on individual team’ performance decisions,” the organizing committee said in an email to NBC News.

As of Wednesday, more than 70 people associated with the Games have tested positive. Despite concerns over the Covid-19 situation, Japan made it known earlier this month that the Games would go ahead in empty stadiums. “We will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases,” the head of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, Toshiro Muto, said at a press conference when asked if the Games might be canceled. “At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises.”

The opening ceremony of the Olympic Games is expected to be held on Friday, July 23. However, the women’s softball and football competitions started on Wednesday.

Two South African footballers staying in the athletes’ village tested positive for coronavirus earlier this week. A Czech beach volleyball player also tested positive for the virus later. A total of 71 people at the Tokyo Olympics have so far tested positive for the virus.

Japan is currently under a state of emergency which will be in place until August 22. There will be no fans or the fanfare that traditionally accompanies the games. And with dozens of coronavirus cases being recorded among the athletes, coaches and staff, people in Japan are angry at their government for the decision to go ahead with the games in the first place.

The Olympics will end on August 8 while the Paralympic Games, which will begin on August 24, will end on September 5. The 2020 Olympics and Paralympics were postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: July 21, 2021


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