The organizing committee of the Tokyo Olympics said Tuesday that an athlete at the athletes' village and eight other people related to the games have newly tested positive for the coronavirus, amid increasing skepticism over whether they can be held without risking the health of participants and the Japanese public.
In addition to the athlete, who is a Czech beach volleyball player, the tally included a volunteer for the first time since the committee started compiling figures on July 1, bringing the total number of games-related infections to 67, three days out from the opening ceremony.
While the organizers have pledged to ensure the safety of the games during the pandemic and at a time when Tokyo is under a COVID-19 state of emergency, cases of infection have been reported since athletes and officials have started to arrive en masse earlier this month.
Seiko Hashimoto, president of the committee, said at a press conference she has noticed that support for the games has dropped in Japan in the days leading up to the opening, because the organizers have not been able to keep fresh cases at zero even though they have put in place anti-virus measures.
"We would like to work hard to have all stakeholders to follow the playbook (anti-virus guidelines)," she said.
She said the decision by the organizers to hold events behind closed doors at almost all venues has enabled the Olympics to go ahead, instead of a cancellation, while stressing that the games should be welcomed by many people.
Meanwhile, the organizers revealed that of the 21 members of the South African men's soccer team who were identified as close contacts, three were exempt from self-quarantine after further case investigation and contact tracing.
Elsewhere, two Mexican baseball players tested positive for COVID-19 before departing for Tokyo, Mexican baseball authorities said Monday. The team, which faces host Japan on July 31, still plans to fly to Tokyo.