Rugby-No more COVID-19 disruptions for S. Africa sevens team
July 22 (Reuters) – Five South African rugby sevens players who were close contacts with coach Neil Powell will not stay in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Village, officials said on Thursday, further disrupting preparations for one of the contenders for the gold medal.
Powell is self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19 upon arriving in Japan last week and will miss the men’s seven-a-side competition which runs Monday through Wednesday next week, offering support via video link only.
The five anonymous players, who traveled with Powell from Tokyo to Kagoshima training base last week, have been kicked out of the Olympic Village for fear of incubating the virus.
They will stay at a separate hotel when the team returns to Tokyo on Friday, although they can train with the team on weekends.
“There’s not much we can do about it, so we’ll have to make it work,” assistant coach Renfred Dazel said in a statement from South African Rugby on Thursday.
“We have adapted since our arrival and it is not easy, but thank you to everyone who keeps smiling and working hard.”
South Africa are among the favorites to win a gold medal after winning bronze in Rio de Janeiro five years ago. Dazel was also part of the technical team, so he believes there is the know-how to be successful.
“I have been fortunate enough to work with Neil for many seasons now, including the previous Olympic Games in Rio. Add in the fact that Neil is still in virtual contact with us so I’m pretty confident we can get the best. results.
“We have a seven hour gap between games, and we will meet on a call to sort out issues or tactics if necessary. We are also lucky with a strong leadership group on the team, and we are all still on the same ticket and drive.
“We have a clear focus, and the guys are working really hard and with good intensity and that’s what we needed.”
South Africa opens its campaign against Ireland on Monday, and will also face Kenya and the United States in Pool C.
Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Ken Ferris
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