Stricter screening considered for Tokyo Olympics arrivals

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Olympic teams should be immediately isolated if they arrive in Japan with a person infected with coronavirus, a Games official said Sunday, after members of Uganda’s squad tested positive.

Hidemasa Nakamura, a senior Tokyo 2020 Games official, said that it is “highly probable that people will come into close contact with an infected person if they travel on the same plane.”

“We’ll immediately prepare a system to isolate and test them even before making a determination (whether they had close contact with an infected person),” he said in a programme discussing coronavirus measures by public broadcaster NHK.

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His comments come after two of the nine-member Ugandan Olympic delegation tested positive for the virus following their arrival this month.

Even after one person was confirmed infected during screening at Tokyo’s Narita airport on June 19, the rest of the team travelled on a chartered bus to Izumisano in Osaka prefecture.

Local health authorities later determined that the entire team — as well as eight other people, including host-city officials and bus drivers — had been in close contact with the two infected individuals, Kyodo News reported.

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Public opinion has been firmly opposed to holding the Games this year over pandemic fears, though recent polls suggest opposition may be softening.

No overseas fans will be allowed and domestic spectators will be capped at 10,000 per event.

Japan has seen a comparatively small virus outbreak, with around 14,600 deaths, despite avoiding harsh lockdowns.

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An initially slow vaccine drive has picked up, with nearly nine percent of the population inoculated.

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