THERE are indications that athletes who are going to compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games don’t feel safe following the positive case of COVID-19 recorded right at the Olympic village designed to house 11,000 competitors.
Nigeria will be competing in nine events at the Games where Ese Brume, Odunayo Adekuoroye, Blessing Okagbare, Elizabeth Anyanacho, Aruna Quadri, and Funke Oshonaike, among others, will be on parade for Team Nigeria.
Athletes will be tested daily while the Games last according to the organisers.
The Tokyo 2020 is scheduled to take place from July 23 to August 8, but about 80 percent of Japanese are against hosting the Games, with a petition getting more than 450,000 signatures this month.
Some locals even resorted to carrying placards calling for the cancellation of the Games which was originally scheduled to be held last summer but for the outbreak of COVID-19.
As the opening ceremony is scheduled to take place on Friday behind closed doors, the glamour witnessed in the opening ceremonies of the past Games would be missing this time at Tokyo 2020 as a result of the pandemic ravaging Japan.
The organisers of the Games a few weeks ago barred spectators from coming to the 43 venues hosting each sport as a measure to prevent the spread of the pandemic, while competition will be held under strict quarantine rules.
The positive case recorded on Friday involved a visitor and one of the organisers of the Games, but the person’s nationality was yet to be revealed at the time of this report.
As it stands, only around 20 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic organising committee president, Seiko Hashimoto, acknowledged the public’s concerns.
“Athletes who are coming to Japan are probably very worried. I understand that,” said Hashimoto.
“That is the reason why we need to make full disclosure. We are doing everything to prevent any Covid outbreaks. If we end up with an outbreak we will make sure we have a plan in place to respond.”
However, in a news conference on Saturday, IOC president, Thomas Bach, wants the Games to go on as scheduled.
“I appeal to the Japanese people to welcome the athletes. We are well aware of the scepticism a number of people have here in Japan,” said Bach.
“We ask and invite the Japanese people, humbly, to welcome and support the athletes from around the world.
“The Japanese can have this confidence [of a safe and secure Games] and we will try to continue this dialogue with them, knowing we will not succeed 100 per cent.
“But we are also confident that once the Japanese people see Japanese athletes successfully performing in the Olympic Games then the attitude may become less emotional.”
Already, over 40 people involved in the Games, including both domestic and foreign nationals, have tested positive before the latest case at the Olympic village.