TOKYO (Reuters) -Samoa has pulled its Olympics team from the Summer Games in Tokyo due to worries over the rising COVID-19 infections in host nation Japan, Radio New Zealand (RNZ) reported on Thursday.
A meeting has been scheduled to discuss the involvement of Samoa’s Olympics team, RNZ added, without giving more details.
“It is terrible, it’s disheartening, it’s very disheartening,” Samoa’s weightlifting boss Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork told Reuters by phone about the decision.
“They’ve decided no one goes out of Samoa,” he said of the government order. “I will now speak to my lifters this afternoon and share the very bad news.”
Samoa’s national Olympic committee was not immediately available for a comment.
Samoa had selected athletes from several sports including weightlifting, boxing, sailing and athletics, for the Olympics, the RNZ report said.
The withdrawal of Samoa is another setback in Japan’s fraught attempts to hold the world’s biggest sporting event during a pandemic after it was delayed last year.
The opening is just less than a month away but the Japanese public is still generally opposed to holding the event given warnings from medical experts that the Games could set off another wave of infections and be the breeding ground for new, more potent variants of the virus.
Tokyo’s new infections rose to 714 on Wednesday, the highest in more than a month as Japanese media reported that officials were considering extending for as long as a month prevention measures that are due to be lifted on July 12.
Public broadcaster NHK said the government was planning measures for all overseas athletes based in regional training camps before the Games start to stop training and quarantine in their rooms if one of their group tests positive for COVID-19.
(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim in Tokyo and Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Writing by Aaron Sheldrick;Editing by Himani Sarkar)