First stress test may come when Japan play SA
THE first major test of how an Olympics can be held in the midst of a pandemic may well come this week in the men’s soccer tournament when Japan face a SA side that could struggle to field 11 players due to the novel coronavirus. South Africa’s squad was severely depleted by Covid-19 infections and withdrawals before they left for the Games and was then hit with the news that two players and a video analyst had tested positive on arrival in Tokyo. Organisers said late on Monday that 21 members of the delegation were close contacts, leaving South Africa walking a tightrope ahead of tomorrow’s match against the hosts. The number was later reduced to 18. The Olympic playbook on coronavirus prevention measures mandates that to compete a close contact must return daily negative PCR tests, including one within six hours of competition. Fifa regulations stipulate a team must have 13 available players for a match to go ahead and SA coach David Notoane said the daily testing means he has no idea who will be able to take the field to face the Japanese. There have been 58 positive cases of Olympics-linked athletes, staff or officials recorded in Japan this month.