A COVID-19 cluster at a hotel where dozens of Brazilian Olympic team members are staying raised new concerns about infections at the Tokyo Games, as the host city recorded its highest number of new cases for six months.
Just over a week before the opening ceremony, the spreading infections highlight the risks of staging the world’s biggest sports event during a pandemic even without spectators in sports venues.
Seven staff at the hotel in Hamamatsu, located southwest of Tokyo, had tested positive for the coronavirus, a city official said.
But a 31-strong Brazilian Olympic delegation, which includes judo athletes, are in a “bubble” in the hotel and separated from other guests and have not been infected.
The Russian women’s rugby sevens team were also in isolation after their masseur tested positive for COVID-19, the RIA news agency reported from Moscow — as was part of the South African men’s rugby team after a case on their inbound flight.
Tokyo, where a state of emergency has been imposed until after the Games end on Aug. 8, recorded 1,149 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the most since Jan. 22.
Organizers have imposed Olympic “bubbles” in an effort to keep out COVID-19, but medical experts are worried that they might not be completely tight as movement of staff servicing the games can create opportunities for infection.
Many Olympic delegations are already in Japan and several athletes have tested positive upon arrival.
The refugee Olympic team has delayed its travel to Japan after a team official tested positive in Qatar, the International Olympic Committee said.
Twenty-one members of the South African rugby team were isolation as they are believed to have been in close contact with the case on their flight, said Kagoshima city, which is hosting the team.
Global interest in the Tokyo Olympics is muted, an Ipsos poll of 28 countries showed, amid concerns over COVID-19 in Japan and withdrawals of high-profile athletes.
The poll released on Tuesday found a global average of 46% interest in the games, and in Japan 78% of people were against the games going ahead.
With spectators barred from all Olympic events in Tokyo and surrounding regions, officials are asking people to watch on television and keep their movements to a minimum.
Among those will not be competing in Japan is former world No. 1 golfer Adam Scott, who questioned whether holding the Tokyo Olympics was a responsible decision.
Switzerland’s Roger Federer became the latest big name in tennis to withdraw, with the 20-times Grand Slam champion saying on Tuesday he had picked up a knee injury during the grass court season.