Team SA has been handed its first Covid-related setback ahead of the Olympic Games, with the entire Springbok Sevens squad being placed in quarantine after a passenger on their flight to Tokyo tested positive.
“There are a total of 18 Team SA members – 14 players plus four from management – who have been put in a quarantine facility some 30 minutes from the Olympic village in Tokyo,” the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) confirmed yesterday.
While she admitted it was “an unfortunate situation”, with the Blitzboks arriving in Japan among the medal favourites, Team SA chef de mission Patience Shikwambana insisted there was no real cause for alarm.
“We are confident that a thorough assessment of the circumstances, using the appropriate clinical and operational filters, will bring clarity and ultimately resolve the matter,” Shikwambana said.
“We remain committed to a safe and fair Games for all participants.”
The three-day men’s rugby sevens tournament starts on 26 July, the fourth day of the multi-sport Games, with the SA team aiming to return to the podium after securing bronze at the 2016 showpiece in Rio.
South Africa will turn out in Group C in the opening round, against the United States, Kenya and Ireland.
Shikwambama said they expected to have more details about the squad’s situation on Thursday.
“At this stage it is an unfortunate chain of events that, despite exercising the strictest precautions and discipline during this pre-Games, the Sevens team have been affected in this way,” she said.
The first members of Team SA management arrived in Tokyo late last week.
The first South African athletes to arrive in Tokyo were the rowing squad, who were in a training camp, and the rugby sevens squad were the second group to arrive at the quadrennial Games which gets under way next week.