Team GB stars dodge risk of being ‘pinged’ en route to Tokyo by flying surrounded by rows of empty seats after some teammates struggled with forced isolation
- Six of Team GB’s athletics team were placed in self-isolation on July 19
- They were identified as close contacts of a passenger who tested positive for coronavirus on the plane to Japan
- They were allowed to resume training with the rest of the team the next day after testing negative for COVID
- So far, 14 athletes have tested positive and more than 150,000 tests have been completed since July 1.
All Team GB athletes are now safe in Tokyo, having been able to fly with rows of empty seats around them.
Fears of being ‘pinged’ had increased within the camp when six athletes and four staff were forced into 14-day quarantine after they were found to have been close to a passenger who tested positive for Covid-19 during their flight.
The athletes can still train and compete, but steeplechaser Zac Seddon revealed via social media that he was struggling mentally with the situation.
Tom Daley was pictured knitting as he flew to Tokyo for the Olympics with the GB diving team on an empty flight – and all of Team GB’s athletes have now arrived in Japan
With passenger numbers to the Japanese capital declining after the Games started, traveling team members have been able to sit in what are essentially segregated areas.
Officials from British Airways, Japan Airlines, ANA and Finn Air are happy to accommodate the traveling party, with those flying with BA enjoying dedicated check-in counters and separate lounges.
It had always been the hope of the British Olympic Authority to keep their athletes away from other passengers, but the numbers on charter flights meant that this had not always been possible.
In an interview with the Guardian Daniel Rowden, Team GB’s 800m middle distance runner, admitted that the news that his six fellow athletic stars who had been placed in self-isolation had others “a little panicked” and wondering if they were next. could be the virus.
Rowden said: ‘Being locked in a room and not being able to train takes away your confidence, takes away your preparation’
“And then there’s a little bit of fear that the same thing could happen to us. These athletes were on the run the day before us, so there’s a little bit of fear that the same thing could happen to people on our flight.”
Team GB women’s soccer team pose for a group photo at Heathrow Airport on July 7 before their flight to Tokyo
Team GB members take a selfie after checking in at Heathrow before departing for London for the Tokyo Olympics
In total about 900 make up the tour group.
Since July 1, there have been 169 positive Covid cases related to the Games.
British sprinter Richard Kilty told the Guardian four days before the Games started that most athletes had the opportunity to come into close contact.
Kilty said, “There’s always the fear that for some reason you’ll be randomly approached, or put in contact with someone, and you won’t get a chance to train or compete.”
A general view of the main dining hall during the Olympic and Paralympic village. Athletes eat in groups of four or two, but there are large Plexiglas dividers to remind everyone that there is a separation of close contact between athletes
Daniel Rowden will compete in the 800 meters as a middle-distance runner. Rowden is pictured during the track and field session for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“If someone were to miss their individual event so close to the Games, it would be heartbreaking for everyone. I don’t wish it on anyone.’
The Czech Republic is investigating an outbreak amid its own team after six positive cases emerged despite their decision to charter their own plane.
There have been reports of athletes taking off their masks with emphasis on team doctor Vlastimil Voráček, who is believed to be one of those who tested positive and is said to be an antivaxxer.
The country’s prime minister, Andrej Babiš, described the situation as a “scandal.”
British sprinter Richard Kilty has admitted that most athletes had the opportunity to come in close contact
Rules for self-isolation at the Tokyo Olympics
What Happens When Olympic Athletes Arriving In Japan Are Considered Close Contacts Of Covid Cases?
When arriving in Japan, people have to take a test at the airport. Those who test positive must self-isolate or receive medical treatment at a hospital in accordance with instructions from the Japanese health authorities.
It is believed that athletes and officials considered to be in close contact with Covid cases will be taken by special transport to the Covid-19 clinic in the Olympic and Paralympic village for a confirmatory PCR test.
If that test is positive, they will have to self-isolate or receive medical treatment at a hospital, and will follow the directions of Games and Japanese government officials.
Can they train or participate in competitions?
Those who test negative are believed to be allowed to train and participate in events provided they stay in their rooms, do not leave their rooms except for training and events, and eat only in their hotel rooms.
They may only participate if they test negative within six hours of the start of the event.
Initially, the Japanese government and the Games’ organizing committee envisaged a strict standard that would not allow athletes to compete with a Covid case until six days after close contact.
But they decided to backtrack on this for fear the Games would be ruined if too many athletes who had been in close contact were excluded.
What test protocols and mitigation are there?
Separate running paths have been created for athletes at training and event venues, while additional testing will be conducted after events for sports where athletes are in close contact with teammates or competitors.
Lists are maintained of athletes who may have had close contact with each other so that they can be notified in the event that close contacts test positive.
Public health centers will determine close contacts, and the Tokyo Games Organizing Committee will decide whether players will be allowed to participate.
Can athletes be banned from participating in the Olympics if they violate any of the restrictions?
Yes. Official guidelines state that athletes who have been in close contact with teammates or competitors for breaking the rules are not allowed to train or compete.