Tokyo – The COVID-19 threat looms over the, where the competition kicked off on Wednesday even before the opening ceremony on Friday. The American women’s football team has had a disappointing start in its quest for Olympic gold, in their first game.
The United States women’s softball team, however, scored a victory, beating Italy in their opener.
But just two days before the official opening of the Games, the coronavirus was still drawing much of the attention.
CBS News correspondent Jamie Yuccas had to pass two COVID tests in Los Angeles before even embarking on the 5,500 mile journey to cover the Games. She must stay at her hotel for the first 14 days, only allowed to visit workspaces, pre-approved Olympic venues and the convenience store around the corner.
And these protocols are just as strict for Olympic athletes and their teams. While no one is required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, safety rules are strict and involve rigorous testing for anyone related to the Games. Any athlete who has come into close contact with someone who tests positive should test themselves daily and self-quarantine in a single dormitory room, including for their meals.
With the opening ceremony just two days away, uncertainty surrounding what was originally planned for the 2020 Summer Games continued on Wednesday.
Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said officials will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds. Unlike the head of the International Olympic Committee, however, Muto would not explicitly rule out ending the Games, even at this late hour.
“Whatever he intended to say, and I suspect they weren’t really discussing the possibility of a cancellation concretely, he ended up telling the world that the Olympics could be canceled,” he said. said Japanese political scientist Koichi Nakano of Sophia University in Tokyo. “The fact that no one has rushed so far to ‘correct’ the misunderstanding must mean that no one feels optimistic enough to guarantee that the Games will go to the end. I think the fact that Toyota , Keidanren and a host of other corporate bigwigs, decided to withdraw from the opening ceremony must be shocking to the [Prime Minister Yoshihide] Suga government, as well as to the organizing committee. In that sense, I think Muto ended up implying that cancellation is a possibility. ”
But USA Today sports columnist Nancy Armor said that “just isn’t going to happen.”
“This train left the station a long, long time ago,” she told Yuccas. “These Games are taking place.”
But the number of positive cases continues to rise – not just in connection with the Olympics, but across the Japanese capital. New daily infections in Tokyo hit a six-month high on Wednesday, with the city registering 1,832 new cases. The entire capital region remained under its fourth state of emergency due to the pandemic, and all fans were banned from Olympic venues in the Tokyo area.
“What worries us is happening,” Toshio Nakagawa, president of the National Medical Association of Japan, told reporters. “The increase in the number of cases was expected whether we have the Olympics or not, and we are concerned that there will be an explosive increase in cases regardless of the Olympics.”
Already more than 70 people linked to the Olympics, including athletes and staff, have tested positive for the coronavirus.
NBA star Bradley Beal never even made it to Japan. He was forced to miss the Olympics after possible exposure to the virus in the United States The American basketball star Katie Lou Samuelson tested positive before leaving the United States, and the tennis starand gymnast Kara Eaker also returned positive tests. Eaker went to the Japanese training ground with USA Gymnastics before .
“Now every morning I check social media to see if the women have posted pictures of themselves in training,” USA Today’s Armor told Yuccas. “I am checking with USA Gymnastics and the US OBC to see how everyone tested negative again today… there is no magic shield around you just because you have been vaccinated.”
Despite health and safety concerns, the head of the World Health Organization on Wednesday called the games a “celebration of hope.”