Olympics: pole vault world champion positive for Covid-19, athletes in isolation

Several athletes from the Australian delegation have been placed in solitary confinement as contact cases of American pole vaulter Sam Kendricks, who announced positive for Covid-19 shortly before, the Australian Athletics Federation (AA) announced Thursday, July 29.

The AA does not specify the number of athletes affected by this measure, but indicates that they are currently being tested, in line with the established protocol. According to the “Sydney Morning Herald” newspaper, all of the 63 Australian athletes in the delegation were placed in solitary confinement.

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Shortly before, the American Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) had announced the positive case of Sam Kendricks, two-time world pole vault champion (2017, 2019), forced to withdraw from the Olympic Games.

Isolation at the hotel

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Australian pole vaulter Kurtis Marschall has been confirmed as a contact case with Kendricks and that other athletes may have interacted with Kendricks.

“We are sad to confirm that Sam Kendricks has tested positive for Covid-19 and will not be able to compete in the Tokyo Olympics”, wrote the USOPC on Twitter, two days before the pole vault qualifications, scheduled for Saturday. The American, bronze medalist at the Rio Olympics, was placed in solitary confinement in a hotel, the USOPC said.

The announcement of this positive case and the placement in solitary confinement of several Australian athletes come on the eve of the start of the athletics events on Friday at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.

The organizers of the Games defend themselves

The organizers of the Games on Thursday defended the effectiveness of their “Countermeasures” in the face of the coronavirus, as 24 new cases of people linked to the event have been reported and infection figures hit record levels in Japan.

At least 193 athletes, management, auxiliary staff of the Olympic Games and journalists have tested positive for the coronavirus in Japan since 1er July (including 109 residents of the country), according to the latest Tokyo-2020 score Thursday. This daily census does not take into account the cases reported at airports and in the base camps of the delegations.

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On Wednesday, Japan recorded 9,583 new cases of Covid-19 on its territory, a new record for the country, and 3,177 of these cases were recorded in Tokyo, an unprecedented local peak there too. However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) disputes any link between the holding of the Games and the new wave of infections in Japan, which had started before the event. “As far as I know, there is not a single case” known transmission of the coronavirus from athletes or Olympic staff to residents of Tokyo, Mark Adams, IOC spokesperson, told reporters on Thursday.

“We have probably the most tested community in the world and, on top of that, the restrictions at the Olympic Village are drastic”, he stressed. On “310,000 screening tests, the positivity rate is 0.02%”, insisted Mark Adams, as if to relativize the concerns of Japanese public opinion vis-à-vis the Games which are held almost entirely behind closed doors.

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