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July 30, 2021

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Virus scare as athletics program set to start

Australia’s track and field team was briefly placed in isolation yesterday as a coronavirus scare caused fresh jitters on the eve of the Tokyo Olympics athletics program.

Nearly 60 athletes and staff were confined to their rooms for more than two hours after United States pole vault world champion Sam Kendricks tested positive for COVID-19.

All were later released apart from three close contacts of Kendricks, who have tested negative but remain in isolation and will be tested daily.

The incident was a jolting reminder of the perils facing athletes at the Tokyo Games, where their Olympic dreams are at risk of being dashed at any moment.

“Members of the Australian track and field team in the Tokyo Olympic Village have been cleared to return to their regular routines,” the Australian Olympic Committee said in a statement.

“The all-clear comes after three members of the team underwent PCR testing following a brief casual contact with a US track and field athlete who had tested positive for COVID-19.”

Kendricks earlier became the latest high-profile withdrawal from the Games after testing positive for the virus.

“We are saddened to confirm that Sam Kendricks tested positive for COVID-19 and will not compete in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020,” the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee said on Twitter.

Argentine pole vaulter German Chiaraviglio later revealed he had also tested positive and would not take part in the Games.

Organizers announced a daily record of 24 new Games-related cases yesterday, three of whom are athletes, taking the overall number of positive cases to 193.

The figures do not include all cases at airports and in training camps.

In Tokyo, where pandemic restrictions are mostly voluntary outside the “Olympic bubble”, daily infections hit a record 3,865. Daily cases nationwide topped 10,000 for the first time, media said.

The government was set to declare a state of emergency in four prefectures outside of Tokyo and extend current ones in Tokyo and Okinawa until the end of August, broadcaster NHK said.


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