CAPE TOWN THE Blitzboks’ chances of clinching a medal at the Tokyo Olympics got off to a rocky start before they even landed in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Team South Africa have announced that the entire Springbok Sevens squad have been placed in quarantine upon arrival in Japan due to a passenger on their flight having tested positive for Covid-19.
Team SA said that none of the Blitzboks’ 18 members – 14 players and four management – had a positive test, but that they had now been placed in a quarantine facility about half-an-hour away from the Olympic Village in Tokyo.
It is unclear whether this period will affect their scheduled pre-tournament camp in Kagoshima, where the Springboks had also based themselves in 2019 before winning the Rugby World Cup.
“It’s an unfortunate situation, but there is no real cause for alarm,” said Team SA chef de mission Patience Shikwambana.
“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.
“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 (period), the Sevens team have been affected in this way.”
The Blitzboks, who are captained by Siviwe Soyizwapi, had posted a photo on their Twitter account showing the players during a layover at the airport in Doha, Qatar on Tuesday.
Coach Neil Powell’s team have been drawn in Pool C alongside Kenya, Ireland and the United States. They will hope to go two steps further than Rio 2016, where they claimed the bronze medal after losing to Great Britain in the semi-finals.
They will open their campaign against Ireland and Kenya on July 26, followed by the United States a day later.
Blitzboks Olympic Schedule (all SA times)
Monday 26 July
4am: Blitzboks v Ireland
12pm: Blitzboks v Kenya
Tuesday 27 July
4.30am: Blitzboks v United States
Quarter-finals: 10.30am, 11am, 11.30am, 12pm
Wednesday 28 July
Semi-finals: 4am, 4.30am