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Greece will not compete in Olympic synchronized swimming in Tokyo, after four of the team’s athletes tested positive for the coronavirus. The entire team is now being sent away from the Olympic Village and transferred to a separate hotel, the Hellenic Organizing Committee said.
The bad news came as the athletes’ sport, officially called artistic swimming, was just entering its first days of competition.
First came news that one athlete had tested positive; three more quickly followed. Clarifying its position after the flurry of tests, Greek officials said the team will not participate in either the group or duet artistic swimming events.
The athletes who tested positive had not been showing symptoms of COVID-19 and are already in a special quarantine hotel, Greek officials said on Tuesday.
Greece’s artistic swimming team had already been grappling with disruptions due to the coronavirus. Evangelia Platanioti, one of the country’s star swimmers and a member of its duet team, tested positive in late July, forcing her to cancel plans to travel to Tokyo. The team inserted an alternate — but then Platanioti tested negative, rushed to Japan over the weekend, and was reinstated to compete.
Despite the last-minute changes, Platanioti and her partner, Evangelia Papazoglou, managed to finish in a tie for tenth place in preliminary rounds — good enough to advance.
The organizing committee says there’s little risk of infections spreading to other members of the Greek delegation, stating that from their arrival in the Olympic Village, the synchronized swimming team was not in direct contact with other athletes and staff.
Since July 1, some 299 people with ties to the Olympics have tested positive for the coronavirus, according to the latest tally from Tokyo 2020 officials. That includes 179 residents of Japan and 120 non-residents — and most cases have been found in contractors and staff, rather than athletes.
Tokyo officials say that as of the start of August, nearly 42,000 athletes, staff, media and other accredited people had arrived in Japan for the Summer Olympics.
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