As the Covids outbreak worsens, Fiji athletes board a plane for the Olympics


While Fiji is battling one of the fastest growing coronavirus epidemics in the world, the Pacific Island Olympic team traveled on a cargo plane to Tokyo on Thursday.

Their fellow passengers? Shipment of frozen fish.

The coronavirus outbreak thwarted plans to transfer athletes to Japan by regular planes after almost all passenger flights from the country were suspended until the end of July. Only a certain number of repatriation and cargo flights are allowed to take off.

The country was attacked by the Delta variant virus, with an average of 57 daily new cases per 100,000 people in the past two weeks, according to New York Times database. Just over 6 percent of the population is fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

So organizing the trip was a “logistical challenge,” Lorraine Mar, executive director of the Fiji Sports Federation and the National Olympic Committee, said Associated Press. The solution: a cargo plane hauling mostly frozen seafood, with enough passenger space for athletes and other officials.

There is a stark contrast to the more glamorous modes of transportation of other Olympians: American basketball players Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton can travel to Tokyo on a private plane due to the scheduling of the conflict, while members of the British Olympic team left Heathrow Airport in London on Tuesday wearing appropriate tracksuits in the colors of his team.

Around midnight local time, about 50 athletes and officials from Fiji, including the state and men’s and women’s seven rugby teams, flew from Nadi, the main international airport, to Tokyo ahead of the Summer Games.

Prior to boarding, team members spent 96 hours in isolation and took tests 72 hours before departure, according to guidelines set by Tokyo officials. One officer of the Olympic team from Fiji who positive test for Covid-19 was withdrawn from the event.

Ahead of the team’s departure, the country’s National Olympic Committee posted a video showing masked well-wishers waving goodbye waving to Fiji the sky-blue flag.

The country will compete in six sports, including archery, judo and table tennis. In 2016, 60 years after the country competed in the Olympics for the first time, Fiji won its first medal when the men’s rugby team triumphed in the inaugural Olympic tournament of the week in rugby in Rio de Janeiro.

In other events around the world:

  • north korea will raise restrictions on coronavirus to the highest level in Seoul, its capital and some neighboring regions starting Monday, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said on Friday. The announcement comes after South Korea reported its biggest daily rise in new cases on Thursday, and the top health official warned that number could almost double by the end of July. Under the new restrictions, people are advised to stay home as much as possible, schools will be closed, public meetings will be limited to two people after 6pm, and rallies will be banned. Nightclubs and bars will be closed, while restaurants and cafes will have limited seating and transportation services after 10pm.

  • Prime Minister Xavier Bettel from Luxembourg,, who was hospitalized with Covid-19 about two weeks after attending the european summit, he left the hospital on thursday morning “given the improvement in his health,” his spokesman said. Mr. Bettel, 48, was admitted on Sunday for low blood oxygen levels, a serious concern for patients with Covid-19. He received his first dose of AstraZenec vaccine in May and fell ill before July 1, when he was due to receive a second. Mr Bettel will return to his duties on Friday, working in isolation from home, his spokesman said. No other European leader attending the June 24th and 25th summit showed symptoms of Covid-19, the EU said on Monday.

  • Government France Advised its citizens on Thursday not to rest in Spain or Portugal due to the recent increase in coronavirus cases there. Spain is recording an average of more new cases a day this week than ever since February. Portugal recently introduced night curfews in several cities, including Lisbon, the capital, where residents are also banned from traveling to other parts of the country on weekends. Portugal and Spain had hoped to revive tourism by reopening their borders to European travelers in time for the high summer season, to be stopped by countries like Britain and now France by issuing new travel warnings. Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santo Silva on Thursday called on European Union countries to co-operate on travel restrictions, rather than enforcing them unilaterally.

  • The United States, as part of his promise to distribute vaccines to countries in need, will deliver 500,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech Uruguay and 1.4 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine for Afghanistan,, the first of three million doses intended for that country, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Thursday.

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