The latest on the Covid-19 pandemic as Olympics approach

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 8:00 p.m. ET, July 19, 2021
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11:51 a.m. ET, July 19, 2021

Nearly 60 confirmed Covid-19 cases linked to the Olympic Games have been reported

A man wearing personal protective equipment stands in a Covid-19 testing center in Tokyo, on July 14.
A man wearing personal protective equipment stands in a Covid-19 testing center in Tokyo, on July 14. Takashi Aoyama/Getty Images

Tokyo 2020 reported Monday that there are 58 Covid-19 cases linked to the Olympic Games so far.

Early Monday, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee confirmed that an alternate on the women’s artistic gymnastics team tested positive for Covid-19. 

She tested positive on Sunday and her doctor confirmed the test result after another test Monday. The unidentified athlete has been transferred to a hotel to quarantine.

On Sunday, three members from South Africa's Olympic soccer team — two players and an official — became the first people to test positive for Covid-19 after arriving at the Tokyo Olympic Village, according to the South African Football Association. The whole team is now under quarantine "until cleared to train," according to the the association said.

Several prominent athletes have also dropped out of the Games. American tennis star Coco Gauff tested positive for the virus and is unable to participate in the Games.

Some background: The rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Games is set to begin on Friday, but the rising number of Covid-19 cases tied to the competition has fueled concerns as to whether the Olympics can be safely held during the ongoing pandemic.

Teams from more than 200 countries are due to arrive in the city in the coming days. As of Friday, more than 15,000 Olympic individuals had entered Japan, according to Thomas Bach, president of the IOC. The Olympic Village, containing 21 residential buildings, will house about 11,000 athletes.

11:51 a.m. ET, July 19, 2021

6 British athletes forced to self-isolate in Tokyo

From CNN's Jacob Lev

Six British athletes and two staff members are self-isolating after coming into close contact with an individual who tested positive for Covid-19 on their flight to Japan, the British Olympic Association said Sunday.

All eight tested negative at the airport and are now under the supervision of the British delegation's medical team, the association said in a statement

The individual who tested positive was not a member of the delegation.

Team Great Britain's chief of mission, Mark England, said that the news was disappointing but "respects" the protocols in place. "We will offer them every support during this period and we are hopeful they will be able resume training again soon," England said.

The rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Games is set to begin on Friday, but the rising number of Covid-19 cases tied to the competition has fueled concerns as to whether the Olympics can be safely held during the ongoing pandemic.

Organizers announced this month that the Tokyo venues will not have spectators due to the city's coronavirus state of emergency – an unprecedented move, according to an International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesperson.

Teams from more than 200 countries are due to arrive in the city in the coming days. As of Friday, more than 15,000 Olympic individuals had entered Japan, according to Thomas Bach, president of the IOC. The Olympic Village, containing 21 residential buildings, will house about 11,000 athletes.

You can read more about the Olympic Village and its Covid-19 safety regulations here.

CNN's Jessie Yeung contributed reporting to this post.

11:51 a.m. ET, July 19, 2021

Contact between local population and Olympic Village residents "extremely small," expert panel chair says

From CNN's Gawon Bae in Seoul

Chair of Independent Expert Panel for the International Olympic Committee Dr. Brian McCloskey said the degree of contact between people in the Olympic Village and the local Japanese population is “extremely small."

In a news conference on Monday, when asked by media if McCloskey considers that the bubble in the village has “no problem,” McCloskey responded:

“The athletes aren’t traveling around Tokyo, they’re not using public transports, they’re using designated transports to go from the village to their training or competition venues, and back again,” he explained.

“The degree of separation is quite good,” McCloskey added. “That again gives us some comfort and reassurance that we will not spread events into the Japanese population.”

The panel head said the measures in place work in terms of reducing the risks.

11:52 a.m. ET, July 19, 2021

Olympics expert says number of coronavirus cases from the Games so far is "actually extremely low"

People take photos of the Olympic rings displayed at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo on July 19.
People take photos of the Olympic rings displayed at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo on July 19. Toru Hanai/Getty Images

Chair of Independent Expert Panel for the International Olympic Committee Dr. Brian McCloskey said the number of Covid-19 cases linked to the Games so far is "actually extremely low."

"What we're seeing is what we expected to see. Essentially, if I thought all the tests that we did were going to be negative, then I wouldn't bother doing the tests in the first place. We do the pretest because they are a way of filtering out people who might be developing an infection," McCloskey said in a news conference Monday.

"The numbers we're seeing are actually extremely low, and probably lower than we expected to see if anything," the panel chair added.

When asked if McCloskey thought the Olympic Village was safe, he simply responded, "Yes."

The Summer Olympics are due to start on Friday.

11:52 a.m. ET, July 19, 2021

US Olympics committee confirms alternate on women's gymnastics team tests positive for Covid-19

From CNN’s Dan Moriarty

A view of the interior of the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo, Japan. The venue will host artistic, rhythmic and trampoline gymnastics.
A view of the interior of the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo, Japan. The venue will host artistic, rhythmic and trampoline gymnastics. Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee has confirmed that an alternate on the women’s artistic gymnastics team tested positive for Covid-19. 

The unidentified athlete has been transferred to a hotel to quarantine.

Here is the full statement from the committee:

The health and safety of our athletes, coaches and staff is our top priority. We can confirm that an alternate on the women’s artistic gymnastics team tested positive for COVID-19. In alignment with local rules and protocols, the athlete has been transferred to a hotel to quarantine. Out of respect for the individual’s privacy, we cannot provide more information at this time.