Blitzboks coach Neil Powell tests positive for Covid-19
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TOKYO – South Africa’s Sevens rugby coach Neil Powell has tested positive for Covid-19, officials said on Sunday, a fourth confirmed infection for the country ahead of the Olympics.
Powell tested positive on arrival in Japan and is in isolation in Kagashima where the Sevens squad are at a pre-Games training camp.
It follows the confirmation earlier on Sunday that two players and a team official from South Africa’s soccer team competing at the Games had also tested positive.
Defender Thabiso Monyane and winger Kamohelo Mahlatsi, as well as video analyst Mario Masha, are also in isolation as the team prepares to face hosts Japan in their opener on Thursday.
Team South Africa’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Phatho Zondi said they were surprised at the infections, but he believes all protocols have been followed for the country’s athletes competing at the Games.
"Every member of Team South Africa required full medical clearance as an eligibility criteria," Zondi said in a statement.
"In addition, they were encouraged to isolate for two weeks pre-departure, monitor health daily, report any symptoms, and produce two negative nasopharyngeal PCR tests taken within 96 hours of departure, as per Tokyo 2020 requirements.
"The timing of the positive results suggests that the PCR test in these individuals was done during the incubation period of the infection, which is how they could be negative in South Africa and then positive in Japan.
"They are now in isolation where they will continue to be monitored and will not be allowed to train or have any physical contact with the rest of the squad(s)."
The Sevens rugby competition, where South Africa will be among the favourites, begins on July 26.