A second Ugandan has tested positive for Covid-19 in Japan, three days after a compatriot suffered a similar fate upon arrival in the country for next month’s Olympics.
The Olympics were postponed for the first time in their history last year as a result of the pandemic and are still set to go ahead on 23 July despite a fresh wave of cases in Japan.
Uganda, which has been experiencing a surge in cases recently, has sent a nine-member squad to the Olympics, all of whom have been fully vaccinated.
“A second member of our Team Uganda has tested positive for Covid-19,” Uganda’s Olympic Committee said in a statement.
“The member is asymptomatic and being looked after by the health authorities in Izumisano city. The rest of the team is well and continue to acclimatise in Izumisano.”
All of Uganda’s Olympic delegation – which includes boxers, a swimmer and a weighlifter – had tested negative for coronavirus prior to leaving Uganda last week.
However, boxing coach Patrick Lihanda tested positive on arrival at Tokyo’s Narita airport on Saturday and was quarantined at a government-designated facility, Japanese officials were quoted by local media as saying.
Continuing Covid cases will raise further questions about whether the Games should be going ahead in Japan, where many locals oppose the idea.
However, officials have refused to call off the Olympics, which run from 23 July to 8 August, saying they will be safe and secure.
Uganda has suffered a surge of cases since the beginning of June, with the daily number of people testing positive having risen from less than 100 to over 1,700.
The African delegation was the second group of foreign athletes to arrive for training, with the Australian women’s softball squad having arrived in Japan on 1 June.
Boxing coach laid low
Following the positive result for Lihanda, the 59-year-old has been quarantined for two weeks following which he is expected to join up with the camp.
Speaking after the first case emerged, Uganda’s boxing federation president said his team was surprised that a member of the delegation had tested positive, given the measures in place.
“We did Covid tests before travel and they returned negative, so as far as the Uganda environment is concerned we did everything possible,” Moses Muhangi told BBC Sport Africa.
“In Uganda, we tested them three times so it beats our understanding how this could have happened because he had been staying in camp with other athletes.
“Maybe they could have returned the same results so it is mind-boggling, but it is what it is.”
Muhangi admitted that regulations could have been more strict as the boxing team prepared in camp for nearly two months in the Ugandan capital Kampala.
“We could have been more stringent because a camp should be non-accessible to outsiders,” he said.
“But when you have so many interests in the management of the team from the federation, the government and officials from the national Olympic committee and national sports council, that in a way could spark a challenge.
“The boxers were meeting all sorts of people and I think we have learned a lesson that in future, a camp should be restricted for access save for those who have been authorised.”