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South African footballers are 1st athlete with Covid at Tokyo 2020 Games Village



Two South Africa footballers have become the first competitors to test positive for coronavirus in the athletes’ village in Tokyo – five days before the start of the Olympic Games.

Meanwhile, six athletes and two staff members from Team GB’s athletics team, who were required to self-isolate after being identified as close contacts with a fellow passenger on their inbound flight to Japan, have resumed training.

The athletes have all produced multiple negative PCR results during their time in isolation.

South Africa’s Football Association confirmed Thabiso Monyane and Kamohelo Mahlatsi as their positive cases.

Mario Masha, the South Africa football team’s video analyst, also tested positive on Saturday.

Organisers say 21 South Africa players and officials have been identified as close contacts.


They are confined to their rooms in the Olympic village, with all of their meals delivered to the door, and they must take daily PCR tests.

All the results on Sunday were negative and as long as that continues, the squad will be will be allowed to train in a bubble as they prepare for their match against Japan on Thursday.

“We have three positive cases of Covid-19 in the camp here, two players and an official,” said South Africa team manager Mxolisi Sibam.

“There is daily screening which included taking temperature and saliva testing.

“Masha and Monyane reported high temperatures and positive saliva tests and were then taken to do the nasal test, which we all had initially taken – and they unfortunately tested positive for Covid through that test. Mahlatsi is the latest player to go through the same process.”


Monyane, a right-back with Orlando Pirates in his homeland, posted on social media when the team arrived in Tokyo.

South Africa Sevens rugby coach Neil Powell also tested positive on Sunday on arrival in Japan and is now isolating in Kagoshima, where the squad is based for a pre-Games training camp.

On Monday, the Czech Olympic Committee announced that beach volleyball player Ondrej Perusic had tested positive in the athletes’ village, two days after a staff member had tested positive following their arrival in Tokyo on a charter flight from Prague.

Organisers had earlier announced six new cases connected to the Olympics including media, contractors and other personnel, though none of those were in the village.

That brings the total number of positive cases to 62, with 29 among the 22,000 accredited people who have arrived from abroad.


Infection rates are rising among the general population of Tokyo, topping 1,000 new cases for four consecutive days. Polls show many Japanese people oppose holding the Games with the influx of overseas visitors it entails.

One of the Games’ sponsors, Toyota, said its executives would not be attending Friday’s opening ceremony, an event spectators were already unable to attend.

The manufacturer also confirmed it would not run any Olympics-related adverts in Japan because of the uncertainty around the Games among the country’s population, though adverts would still be aired internationally.

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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