All of Team GB’s athletes are now safely in Tokyo – after being able to fly with rows of empty seats surrounding them.
Fears of being ‘pinged’ had increased within the camp when six athletes and four staff members were forced into a 14-day quarantine after they were found to have sat close to a passenger who tested positive for Covid-19 on their flight over.
The athletes can still train and compete but steeplechaser Zac Seddon disclosed via social media that he was struggling mentally with the situation.
Tom Daley was pictured knitting as he jetted to Tokyo for the Olympics with the GB diving team on an empty flight – and all of Team GB’s athletes have now made it to Japan
With passenger numbers to the Japanese capital falling after the Games started – travelling squad members have been able to sit in what are effectively segregated areas.
Officials from British Airways, Japan Airlines, ANA and Finn Air have been happy to accommodate the travelling party, with those flying BA enjoying designated check-in desks and separate lounges.
It had always been the British Olympic Authority’s hope to keep their athletes away from other passengers but numbers on charter flights meant that it had not always been possible.
In an interview with the Guardian, team GB’s 800m middle distance runner Daniel Rowden admitted the news of his six fellow track and field stars being placed in self-isolation had left others ‘a little freaked out’ and wondering if they could be next to catch the virus.
Rowden said: ‘Being locked in a room and not being able to train takes away your confidence, takes away your preparation’
‘And then there is also a little fear that the same could happen to us. These athletes were on the flight the day before us, so there is a bit of apprehension that the same could happen to people on our flight as well.’
Team GB’s women football team pose for a group photo at Heathrow Airport on July 7 before their flight to Tokyo
Members of Team GB take a selfie after checking in at Heathrow before they depart London for the Tokyo Olympics
In total, around 900 make up the travelling party.
Since July 1, there have been 169 positive Covid cases connected with the Games.
British sprinter Richard Kilty told the Guardian four days before the Games began that the possibility of coming into close contact was on most athletes’ minds.
Kilty said: ‘There is always the fear that you may be contacted at random for some reason, or come into contact with someone, and that you won’t have the chance to train or compete.’
A general view of the main dining hall during the Olympic and Paralympic Village. Athletes eat in groups of four or two, but there are large plexiglass dividers to remind everyone that there is a separation of close contact between athletes
Daniel Rowden will be competing as a middle-distance runner for the 800 meters. Rowden is pictured during the Athletics kitting out session for the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
‘If someone were to miss their individual event so close to the Games, it would be heartbreaking for anyone. I don’t wish it on anyone.’
The Czech Republic are investigating an outbreak amid its own team after six positive cases which have come about despite their decision to charter their own plane.
There have been reports of athletes taking their masks off with focus on team doctor Vlastimil Voráček, who is understood to to be among those who tested positive and who is said to be an anti-vaxxer.
The country’s Prime Minister, Andrej Babiš, described the situation as a ‘scandal’.
British sprinter Richard Kilty has admitted that the possibility of coming into close contact was on most athletes’ mind
Self-isolation rules at the Tokyo Olympics
What happens if Olympic athletes arriving in Japan are deemed to be close contacts of Covid cases?
Upon arrival in Japan, people must take a test at the airport. Those who test positive must self-isolate or receive medical treatment in a hospital in accordance with the instructions of the Japanese health authorities.
It is thought athletes and officials who are deemed to be close contacts of Covid cases are taken by dedicated transport to the Covid-19 clinic at the Olympic and Paralympic Village for a confirmatory PCR test.
If that test is positive, they must self-isolate or receive medical treatment in a hospital, and will follow the direction of Games and Japanese government officials.
Are they allowed to train or compete?
It is thought those who test negative will be allowed to train and compete in events on condition that they stay in their rooms, do not leave their rooms except for training and events, and eat alone in their hotel rooms.
They will only be allowed to compete if they test negative within six hours of the start of the event.
Initially, the Japanese government and the Games organising committee were considering a strict standard that would not allow athletes to compete for up to six days after close contact with a Covid case.
But they decided to backtrack from this amid fears the Games would be ruined if too many athletes who had been in close contact were barred.
What testing protocols and mitigation are in place?
Separate walkways have been created for athletes at training and event venues, while extra tests will be conducted after events for sports in which athletes are in close contact with teammates or competitors.
Lists of athletes who may have been in close contact with each other will be kept so they can be notified in the event that close contacts test positive.
Public health centers will determine who are close contacts, and the Tokyo Games organising committee will decide if players are allowed to compete.
Can athletes be barred from competing in the Olympics if they break any of the restrictions?
Yes. The official guidelines state that athletes who have had close contact with teammates or competitors because they have flouted rules will not be allowed to train or compete.