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Tokyo Olympics: Guinea reverses Games exit after rapid U-turn

Sports Minister Sanoussy Bantama Sow said on Wednesday that there were concerns over a recent rise of Covid-19 variants.

“Guinea will participate in the Tokyo Olympics,” Sow told BBC Afrique.

“It was not a question of finances,” he said in response to such accusations. “We were simply caring about the life of our Guineans.

“We spoke with the organisers and they told us they will do everything to make sure our athletes will be safe.”

On Wednesday, Sow had issued a statement announcing Guinea’s late withdrawal, which came with the small delegation yet to fly.

“Due to the rise in cases of Covid-19 variants, the government, out of concern for the health of the Guinean athletes, has regretfully decided to cancel their participation,” the statement, dated 21 July, read.

The Guinean delegation features five competitors – one apiece in athletics, judo and wrestling, while two are swimmers.

One of them, Mariama Toure, is the first in action as she is due to race in the women’s 100m breaststroke heats on Sunday, with judoka Mamadou Samba is scheduled to compete the following day.

Guinea’s withdrawal – had it lasted – would have been the second time a country withdrew from the delayed Games, after North Korea cited Covid concerns when pulling out in April.

Covid clearance

Elsewhere, there was better news for six players from Kenya women’s rugby sevens team who are expected to come out of a 14-day Covid quarantine in time for their first match against New Zealand on 29 July.

“Until yesterday, they were confined in a government facility where they weren’t able to train,” Kenya’s Chef de mission Waithaka Kioni told BBC Sport Africa on Thursday. “But they have now come to the village. Each has a room individually.”

“The girls have been returning negative Covid tests and that is encouraging that no player tested positive. But because one passenger in their flight tested positive and they were judged as close contacts, they had to quarantine for 14 days.”

Team Kenya arrived in Japan early to acclimatise in the city of Kurume prior to moving into the athletes’ village earlier this week.

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