The Czech Olympic team received sharp words from their prime minister on Thursday as six athletes and officials on the same flight to Tokyo tested positive for coronavirus.
Prime Minister Andrej Babis called the situation “a scandal” as beach volleyball player Marketa Nausch Slukova and road cyclist Michal Schlegel tested positive in the Olympic Village.
They took the tally of Covid-hit athletes in the Czech team to four, while two other staff also tested positive.
“I don’t like this one bit. I don’t understand how it could happen,” Babis told reporters.
Nausch Slukova’s Austrian coach and husband Simon Nausch tested positive earlier this week along with another beach volleyball player, Ondrej Perusic, and table tennis hope Pavel Sirucek.
Czech Olympic team doctor Vlastimil Voracek tested positive on arrival in Tokyo. Czech Olympic Committee spokesman Tibor Alfoldi confirmed to AFP that all five were on the same flight.
Schlegel’s positive test was confirmed later on Thursday. The cyclist also arrived on the same plane.
Nausch Slukova’s positive test rules her and teammate Barbora Hermannova out of the Olympics.
“I don’t know what to say, I’m terribly disappointed,” Nausch Slukova, who was fifth at London 2012 with Kristyna Kolocova, said in a statement.
“We keep persuading people to get vaccinated, and the doctor was not vaccinated. It’s unfair to the athletes above all,” Prime Minister Babis said.
Olympic team head Martin Doktor said the Czech Olympic Committee had launched a probe into the Covid cluster.
“The situation is serious but since the problem emerged, we have done our best to stop the spread,” said Doktor.
“Unfortunately, we could not avoid sporting tragedies. I’m terribly sorry,” he added.
David Travnicek, head of the Sport Invest agency representing Nausch Slukova, did not mince his words.
“The incredibly underestimated logistics are pure amateurism in our eyes,” he said. “It is a failure of the person in charge of the charter flight, not of the people on board.”