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Czech Olympic officials are examining a cluster of coronavirus cases linked to a charter flight that brought a contingent of athletes and staff to Japan. The country team has a total of six cases of the coronavirus.
A doctor who was on the flight was said to have been among the first to test positive. As of Thursday evening, four athletes had also tested positive for the coronavirus.
Road cyclist Michal Schlegel is the latest athlete to test positive, joining a roster that includes two beach volleyball players and one table tennis player. Schlegel will not be able to compete in Saturday’s Olympic road race, the Czech Olympic Committee said.
Another athlete who has tested positive is beach volleyball player Markéta Nausch Sluková, who will miss her game which was also scheduled for Saturday.
The national team said they were urgently investigating the theft, which brought a large part of the Czech Olympic delegation to Tokyo last week. Sign of the depth of suspicion regarding the flight, after confirmation of Schlegel’s test, only those in charge of the cycling team who were on the charter plane were required to report directly to Tokyo for further coronavirus testing .
The cluster of cases related to the charter flight has become a big story in the Czech Republic, especially after media reports there that many passengers removed their masks immediately after the plane took off.
“Prime Minister Andrej Babiš called the situation a scandal and unfair for the athletes,” reports Radio Prague International.
Much of the review focuses on a doctor who was on the flight, Vlastimil Voráček, who was reportedly unvaccinated and who has been spouting out-of-the-way theories about the COVID-19 pandemic – including the idea that people could protect themselves by gargling regularly with mouthwash, according to the newspaper Seznam Zprávy.
The country’s Olympic officials have said they want the investigation to focus on whether all COVID-19 precautions were observed before, during and after the charter flight – and whether some of the passengers in the the plane may have failed in their responsibilities.