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April 23, 2021

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Torch relay has first positive virus case

A POLICE officer helping with Japan’s Olympic torch relay has become the first participant in the event to be diagnosed with COVID-19, organizers said yesterday.

A man in his 30s tested positive for the virus after working on the relay in Kagawa prefecture on Japan’s southern island of Shikoku, Tokyo 2020 said in a statement.

The officer was guiding traffic in the town of Naoshima on Saturday and came down with a fever on Sunday, the Asahi Newspaper reported, citing organizers and prefectural police. The man wore a mask and had no contact with runners.

The organizers said all participants and officials are taking the best precautions and that the case will not affect the subsequent legs of the torch events.

Separately, two runners, a TV personality and a former Olympian, dropped out of a relay event due to be held in the western prefecture of Tottori next month, public broadcaster NHK reported.

The torch relay involves 10,000 runners crisscrossing Japan for four month, ending at the arrival at the National Stadium on July 23 to kick off the scheduled opening ceremony.

For precautions, legs last week were run in a city park in Osaka and taken off the public streets. Something similar is expected for some legs on May 1-2 on the southern island of Okinawa.

Public support for the Games has waned amid concern the event will exacerbate COVID-19 infections, now battering the country in a fourth wave.

Meanwhile, organizers held a test event for rugby at Tokyo Stadium yesterday as they look to regain momentum in their preparations for the opening of the Games in three months’ time.

Organizers restarted test events this month after a long hiatus due to the pandemic, but several have already been postponed or moved outside Japan because of the disruption to scheduling and international travel.

Yesterday’s rugby event was considered an “operational test” that did not involve official matches, and no international players or spectators were present.


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