COVID and the Tokyo Olympics

The impact of Covid-19 on the Olympics can not be understated and with positive tests in the village already, can the games go off without interruption?

Already postponed a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Tokyo Olympics are finally and nearly here.

We think.

With the Games set to open on Friday, the virus that changed the world in March 2020 is still threatening the Olympics. Athletes from around the world are arriving, and so has COVID-19. The international news agency AFP was the first to report that a case of COVID was confirmed during a required screening test a full week before the opening ceremonies.

Along with the confirmation of that test, and others that have come since, Tokyo itself is reporting a six-month high in COVID cases, which included a cluster of positive tests at a local hotel housing a large portion of the Brazilian Olympic team. Seven staff members at the hotel were confirmed to have positive tests. The athletes are in a bubble and reportedly have not been infected.

Can Games Make it to August 8?

The Japanese government is concerned about the country's low rate of vaccinations and its citizens gathering in groups to watch the Olympics. There is a fear of the more contagious variants coming to Japan with athletes from other countries. There is also a belief that the athletes’ bubbles won’t be quite as tight as planned.

2021 Olympics Covid TokyoIf the Olympics are to make it all the way to the closing ceremonies, it will require a change in expectations. There will be more positive tests - that's a certainty. And there are likely to be clusters of positives that may result in the complete withdrawal from the Games for an entire team.

If Japanese and Olympic officials (and fans) expect the Games to make it to the end without major hiccups, they’ll be tempted to postpone or cancel competitions. If, however, the expectation is something more in line with last year's NFL season - when games were moved, and players were ruled ineligible - the Olympics should be able to make it to the end. But again, those expectations need to be tempered. There will be a star athlete that tests positive or a marquee competition that will be altered or canceled.

The reality is that all medal favorites will be competing against other athletes while also focusing on staying infection-free. Being lucky will be just as important as performance.

Coco Gauff Withdraws From Olympics Following Positive Test

Coco Gauff Olympics Positive COVID-19 TestOne of the rising stars of the tennis world has been forced out of the Olympics before her first match. American teenager Coco Gauff announced on social media that she has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not play in Tokyo.

"I am so disappointed to share the news that I have tested positive for COVID and won't be able to play in the Olympic Games in Tokyo. It has always been a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics, and I hope there will be many more chances for me to make this come true in the future. I want to wish TEAM USA the best of luck and safe games for every Olympian and the entire Olympic family."

With Gauff now out, the biggest name remaining on the U.S. women's tennis team is Australian Open runner-up Jennifer Brady. The uncertainty among the remaining players has kept oddsmakers hesitant to offer any prices on the Olympic tennis events since last week.

Other Athletes and Teams Dealing with COVID

On the Monday before the opening ceremonies, the number of positive tests connected to the Olympics stood at 55. That includes some officials and contractors, and athletes that are now out of the Games for the duration.

The South African Olympic soccer team has three members that have tested positive, including two players. The entire team has been placed in quarantine, and at the moment, they are not allowed to practice.

The U.S. men’s basketball team is without Bradley Beal after he tested positive for COVID over the last week. Kevin Love is also out because of a calf injury. Taking their spots are Nuggets' center JaVale McGee and Spurs' forward Keldon Johnson.

Members of the Great Britain gymnastics team are in isolation after a positive test was confirmed on their flight to Tokyo. But as of now, none of the gymnasts have tested positive, and they are still on schedule to compete.

Despite the outbreaks, COVID scares and logistic uncertainties, the USA still leads the field in regard to gold medal odds for the overall event. They've moved to even higher -1200 odds over the recent week to beat all other countries for their gold-medal haul. The next closest country is China, in a distant second place at +600.

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