Dan Evans said he was 'hugely disappointed' he had been forced to withdraw
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British tennis hopes at the Olympics are in chaos after Dan Evans, the British No 1, pulled out after testing positive for Covid-19.
The 31-year-old was forced to abandon the competition just 24 hours after Johanna Konta, the nation’s top women’s player, also withdrew from travelling to Tokyo. Evans, who is believed to have tested positive shortly after leaving the All England Club bubble, said he was "hugely disappointed". His announcement is also a blow for doubles partner Neal Skupski.
Jamie Murray has been mooted as an 11th-hour replacement, but he would require approval from Japanese authorities. The tennis in Tokyo was already beset by a host of uncertainties with little over a week to spare from the opening ceremony. Roger Federer is ruled out while he undergoes treatment on his knee, while Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic has yet to make a decision on whether he will play.
"I am hugely disappointed and currently self isolating according to the guidelines as set out by the government," Evans said in a statement. Konta, meanwhile, had said she was unable to get properly prepared after contracting Covid on the eve of Wimbledon.
More late withdrawals across sport are inevitable in the coming days as athletes undergo more PCR tests, but Thomas Bach, the International Olympic Committee president, has promised a “safe and secure” Games.
Speaking after a meeting with the Japanese prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, Bach stressed measures were “in place and they are enforced and they are working”. He added that 85 per cent of athletes and officials staying at the Olympic village and almost all IOC officials and staff were either “vaccinated or immune”.
The Olympic rings in front of Tokyo's iconic Rainbow Bridge
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Of 8,000 Olympics-related staff who had arrived in Japan between 1-13 July, only three had tested positive, he said. A state of emergency was imposed until after the Games end on Aug 8, and the nation on Wednesday recorded 1,149 new Covid-19 cases, its most since January 22.
A cluster of Covid cases were recorded at a Japanese hotel where dozens of Brazilian Olympic team members are staying on Wednesday. Seven staff at the hotel in Hamamatsu city, south-west of Tokyo, had tested positive for the coronavirus, a city official said. But a 31-strong Brazilian Olympic delegation, which includes judo athletes, are in a "bubble" in the hotel and separated from other guests and have not been infected.
The Russian women’s rugby sevens team were also in isolation after their masseur tested positive for Covid-19, the RIA news agency reported from Moscow – as was part of the South African men’s rugby team after a case on their inbound flight. Highly contagious virus variants have fuelled the latest wave of infections, and failure to vaccinate people faster has left Japan’s population vulnerable.
Tokyo, where a state of emergency has been imposed until after the Games end on August 8, recorded 1,149 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, the most since January 22. Officials have imposed Olympic "bubbles" in an effort to keep out Covid-19, but medical experts are worried that they might not be completely tight as movement of staff servicing the Games can create opportunities for infection.
The Olympics, postponed last year as the virus was spreading around the world, have lost much public support in Japan because of fears they will trigger a surge of infections. When Japan was awarded the Games in 2013, they were expected to be a celebration of recovery from a deadly earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident in 2011.