Tokyo Olympics: Samoa’s Olympic committee said on Thursday it was withdrawing its weightlifting team from the Tokyo Games, set to start in just over three weeks, because of COVID-19 curbs, but added that other athletes already overseas would attend. The withdrawal represents the latest setback for Japan’s fraught efforts to stage the world’s biggest sporting event during a pandemic, after it was delayed last year.
Tokyo Olympics: “The only team that cannot travel is the weightlifting team, which is based here in Samoa,” Patrick Fepuleai, the president of the Pacific nation’s Olympic committee, told Reuters by telephone. “We are still under a state of emergency, we’re in lockdown.”
However, Samoa would have a presence at the Games, he said. “We are still sending a team to the Olympics,” he added. “Our teams are scattered all around.” The Olympics is set to start on July 23, but many in Japan are still opposed to holding the event, as medical experts have warned it could unleash another wave of infections and spawn new, more potent variants.
“It’s terrible, it’s disheartening, it’s very disheartening,” Samoa’s weightlifting boss, Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork, told Reuters by telephone about the decision. “I will now speak to my lifters this afternoon and share the very bad news.”
Tokyo Olympics: Tokyo’s new infections rose to 714 on Wednesday, the highest in more than a month, as domestic media said officials were weighing an extension of prevention measures for as much as a month beyond July 12, the current end date.