TOKYO — While attempting to enter Japan for the Tokyo Olympics, a member of the Serbian Olympic rowing squad tested positive for COVID-19. The Tokyo Olympics begin in just over three weeks.
The revelation was first reported by the Japanese news agency Kyodo on Sunday, citing sources from the Japanese health ministry.
The athlete was reportedly quarantined at Tokyo’s Haneda airport, according to officials. Four additional passengers were allegedly taken to a facility close to the airport. They were supposed to fly to Nanto, in central Japan, for a training camp. The training camp, according to Nanto authorities, is likely to be canceled.
The news comes after two Ugandan Olympic athletes tested positive for the coronavirus after arriving in Japan last month. One of the squad members tested positive at Narita Airport near Tokyo, but the rest were allowed to go to a training facility.
A second member of the group was later discovered to be infected with the virus.
On Friday, Seiko Hashimoto, the chairperson of the organizing committee, claimed that more than 500 people had arrived in Tokyo safely. In addition to tens of thousands of additional coaches, judges, and Olympic officials, around 11,000 Olympic and 4.400 Paralympic competitors will come for the Olympics.
Organizers have yet to decide whether or not local fans will be allowed inside venues. Fans from other countries have been barred for months.
Organizers said about two weeks ago that they would allow indoor and outdoor venues to be filled to 50% capacity up to 10,000 people.
However, with new illnesses appearing every day in Tokyo for the past two weeks, local officials are scheduled to meet this week with the International Olympic Committee and others to discuss lowering the quota or excluding spectators entirely.
Many other possibilities have been reported in the Japanese media, including no spectators at all; no fans for the opening ceremony on July 23; limitations on supporters at night events; and lowering the cap to 5,000 at all venues.
No fans, according to Dr. Shigeru Omi, a top government medical expert, is the safest choice. In the midst of a pandemic, he has also questioned why the Olympics are being hosted at all. He describes it as “abnormal.”