Jul 15, 2021 - Sports

Olympic athlete, staff member test positive for COVID

Photo of the Olympic rings monument and a masked security officer
Photo: Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

An Olympic athlete and staff member are among six new positive cases of the coronavirus, the local Tokyo organizing committee said Thursday.

Why it matters: The announcement comes one day after the International Olympic Committee revealed that an official on the refugee team tested positive. Japanese people continue to protest the games amid the latest uptick in positive cases ahead of opening day July 23.

  • Infectious disease experts say the Olympics don't have strong enough protocols for testing or ventilation, either in competition venues or in the Olympic village, Axios' Tina Reed writes.

Details: The unidentified athlete and staff member tested positive one day apart. Both are in a two-week quarantine period.

  • The other four are local contractors.
  • International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said Thursday that "[r]isk for the other residents of Olympic village and risk for the Japanese people is zero," Reuters reports.
  • But health experts fear the Olympics could become a superspreader event.

The big picture: Tokyo reported 1,308 new cases on Thursday, per AP. It's the city's highest daily total since late January. The country itself has a 19% vaccination rate.

  • In a bid to prevent the virus from spreading, Japan's government has banned spectators from events. The country also extended its state of emergency.
  • Olympic athletes will hang medals around their own necks in a departure from previous ceremonies.
  • Members of the Olympic refugee team will make a delayed arrival to Tokyo due to the staffer's positive case.

Go deeper... Axios Today: Controversy ahead of the Olympics

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