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Two South African soccer players become first athletes to test positive for COVID-19 at Tokyo Olympics

The Olympics Games, which were postponed from last year because of the pandemic, will begin on Friday (July 30) under a state of emergency in Tokyo.

Tokyo Olympics SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett

COVID-19 concerns continue to mount as two athletes living in the Olympic Village tested positive less than a week before the Tokyo Games begin. Olympic organizers confirmed the positive COVID-19 tests on Sunday (July 18), and NPR is reporting the two players — Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi — are members of the South African soccer team. Their test results were confirmed by the South African Football Association.

The association followed the confirmed results with a statement stating the entire team “followed all relevant Olympic Playbook rules, protocols and procedures throughout the pre-Games and Games arrival routines.” Mario Masha, a video analyst for the South African team also tested positive, but the rest of the players tested negative.

All of the South African players tested negative twice before leaving for Japan, the team’s chief medical officer Dr. Phatho Zondi said. “The timing of the positive results suggests that the PCR test in these individuals was done during the incubation period of the infection, which is how they could be negative in South Africa and then positive in Japan,” Dr. Zondi said in the statement. “They are now in isolation where they will continue to be monitored and will not be allowed to train or have any physical contact with the rest of the squad.”

Olympic organizers announced on Sunday (July 18) that a third “non-Japanese” athlete tested positive in the Olympic Village, The Associated Press reports. Organizers also confirmed the first International Olympic Committee member tested positive on Saturday at a Tokyo airport.

Since July 1, 55 people involved with the Olympics have tested positive for COVID-19. The positive tests include athletes and staff who have arrived for training but aren’t officially under the “jurisdiction” of the organizing committee, AP reports.

Tokyo recorded 1,410 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, based on data compiled by Google. The Olympics Games, which were postponed from last year because of the pandemic, will begin on Friday (July 30) under a state of emergency in Tokyo. The emergency order lasts until Aug. 22, shortly before the Paralympics begin.

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