Tokyo Olympics' first cluster of infections leave Chinese fans fear for athletes' health
Published: Aug 04, 2021 06:55 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Chinese sports fans grew anxious about the health of the country's Olympic delegation, especially the artistic swimmers, after the Tokyo Olympics saw three Greek artistic swimmers test positive for coronavirus in what it calls the "first cluster of COVID-19 infection in the athletes' village."

Kyodo News Agency cited the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee on Wednesday as saying that four athletes and one official among the Greek artistic swimming team who tested positive for COVID-19 are among the first cluster of infections in the athletes' village.

There have been more than 300 COVID-19 cases associated with the ongoing Olympics, according to Tokyo Organizing Committee's spokesperson Masanori Takaya.

Greece has withdrawn its artistic swimming team from artistic swimming competitions. 

Global Times reporters in Tokyo found no extra measures other than the routine body temperature check and hand disinfection procedure before the Wednesday artistic swimming game.

 "We didn't meet them [Greek artistic swimmers] as we trained in different sessions," China's artistic swimmer Sun Wenyan told the Global Times. "We paid great attention to epidemic prevention," Sun noted.

Sun and Huang Xuechen bagged the silver medal in the women's artistic swimming duet on Wednesday.

Still, Chinese netizens said they were deeply worried by the cluster infection, especially for the Chinese swimmers who have to compete in the same pool. 

"Medal or not, it does not matter anymore. Just come back in good health," one said.

More than 1 million Chinese netizens are anxiously following the incident. 

"Although we consider the air-borne transmission the main route of infection, there are chances that athletes could also get infected from touching the nose or simply water contaminated by virus," Yao Maosheng, a bioaerosol study expert and professor at the College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering of the Peking University in Beijing, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Japanese internet users were also concerned about the first officially acknowledged cluster infection of COVID-19 associated with the Olympics. 

"How many more would be infected before the end of the Games? 100 more? Now Japan itself has a handful of cases to handle, it only adds the burden to the country's medical system… will the foreign athletes return to their homeland right away?" asked one.

Japan has seen a sharp increase in coronavirus cases. Tokyo, which had a record of 4,058 new infections on Saturday, had 3,709 new cases on Tuesday.

According to Japanese government regulations, an Olympic-related person who arrived in Japan in July must take two nucleic acid tests within 96 hours before boarding; a virus test will be conducted at the airport after entering Japan. During the Tokyo Olympics, all athletes must be tested daily.  

If one member of a foreign delegation is infected, the entire team will be quarantined in a single room in the hotel until they are confirmed healthy.