Blitzboks forced into quarantine on Tokyo arrival

The Blitzboks – Team SA’s men’s rugby sevens squad – have gone into quarantine after landing in Tokyo ahead of the Olympic Games following a Covid-19 positive case on board their flight.

According to a media release from Team SA, none of the South Africans returned a positive test, but a passenger not linked to the squad produced a positive return which has led to a knock-on effect.

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.

This quarantine period could reportedly last for up to 14 days. With the Olympic sevens set to start on 26 July, the Blitzboks could be in a race against time to be ready for the tournament.

Neil Powell’s squad was originally set to base themselves in Kagoshima for a pre-tournament camp up until 23 July, before they moved into the Olympic Village.

The passenger will undergo a second test and if it is negative, the Blitzboks will continue with their plans to travel to Kagoshima as normal. The Blitzbok squad will also undergo a second test on Thursday morning. Should some of the squad members deemed to be close contacts, they will remain in quarantine, while the rest of the squad travels to the pre-season camp.

“It’s an unfortunate situation, but there is no real cause for alarm,” said Patience Shikwambana, the chef de mission for Team SA at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

“We were notified that a passenger aboard the flight tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival in Tokyo. As a compulsory precaution, 18 members have now been put into quarantine. 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. We remain committed to a safe and fair Games for all participants,” Shikwambana added.

“We will have more details tomorrow. 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.”

Team SA’s men sevens have been drawn in a qualifying group that includes the USA, Kenya and Ireland.

Photo: Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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Dylan Jack