Where EAST meets the Northwest
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, center,
stands by a remote-controlled guide robot at Haneda international airport in
Tokyo on June 28, 2021. Suga inspected antigen testing for arrivals and vowed to
ensure appropriate border controls as growing numbers of Olympic and Paralympic
participants enter Japan ahead of the July 23 opening of the games (Kyodo News
Japan ups health controls as
Olympic athlete tests positive
By Mari Yamaguchi
The Associated Press
TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide
Suga has pledged to strengthen health controls at airports after a Ugandan
Olympic team member tested positive for COVID-19 at the town hosting their
training camp, triggering concerns that the upcoming games will spread
A Ugandan team member, reportedly a coach,
tested positive on Saturday at Tokyo’s Narita airport and was quarantined there.
But the rest of the nine-person team was allowed to travel more than 300 miles
on a chartered bus to their pre-Olympics camp in the western prefecture of
Three days later, a second Ugandan also tested
positive for the virus, forcing seven town officials and drivers who had close
contact with the team to self-isolate. The team members were quarantined at a
Concerns escalated after it was announced that
both Ugandans had the delta variant of the virus, which is believed to spread
In response to criticism of the case, Suga
rushed to Tokyo’s Haneda international airport to inspect virus testing for
arrivals and vowed to ensure appropriate border controls as growing numbers of
Olympic and Paralympic participants enter Japan ahead of the July 23 opening of
Chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato later
Monday said Japan plans to step up quarantine requirements for Olympic athletes
and other participants from areas where the delta strain has been detected by
requiring daily virus tests for seven days prior to departure to Japan —
extended from the current four days —and up to 14 days after entry and training
in isolation in the first three days.
The Uganda case illustrated that Japan’s border
health controls can be easily breached, Tokyo Medical Association chairman Haruo
Ozaki said Sunday on NHK public television.
"Apparently the border controls are not
adequate, even though there has been plenty of time to work on them," he said.
Osaka governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said the
entire team should have been quarantined at Narita airport.
Government officials initially defended the
airport health controls as having properly detected and isolated the positive
case, and said that contact tracing and isolation of those suspected of having
had close contact was not their job but that of local health officials.
"No matter what measures you take, infected
people would come in and it is unavoidable," Japanese Olympic Committee
president Yasuhiro Yamashita said at a news conference in Tokyo.
"Strict border control at airports is extremely
important," Yamashita said, urging the government to do more instead of pushing
all the responsibility of contact tracing on local authorities.
Experts have noted a significant increase in the
movement of people in Tokyo and other metropolitan areas since the easing of a
state of emergency on June 21 and warned of signs of a resurgence of infections
in the Tokyo region.
Tokyo on Monday reported 317 new cases, up from
236 from a week earlier, the ninth consecutive day of week-on-week increases,
with an increase in cases of the delta variant. That could accelerate the
resurgence to levels that might require another state of emergency during the
Olympics, experts said.
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