Kurume City — The national women’s rugby sevens team will be full house in Kurume City, Japan soon with the remaining batch of players expected in after a brief precautionary holding in Tokyo.
The team of six players and team manager Camilyne Oyuayo travelled to Japan from Nairobi on Sunday, but upon arrival in Tokyo, were held back as a procedural precaution after one of the passengers on their Qatar Airways flight to Tokyo from Doha tested positive for Covid-19.
However, none of the Kenyan players and officials in Tokyo has retuned positive results after being tested multiple times, testimony to the effectiveness of the team’s bubble training camp at Kasarani and careful travel procedures.
The first batch of players arrived in Kurume early this week and have already held several sessions at the team’s base, the Fukuoka Prefecture Kurume Sports Centre.
The first batch of players to travel to Kurume were head coach Felix Oloo and seven players, namely Philadelphia Olando (captain), Cynthia Camilla, Christabel Lindo, Grace Adhiambo, Sinaida Aura, Janet Okello and Sarah Bridgid Oluche.
As standard procedure agreed upon by the Government of Japan and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), following a positive result, potential close contacts are assessed and reviewed by the REAG (Results Advisory Expert Group) and will be confirmed as a close contact by the Japanese health authorities.
The Principles of the Management of Athletes and Team Officials Confirmed as Close Contact stipulate that close contacts will undergo daily nasopharyngealPCR (NPH-PCR) testing, in principal.
“While being managed as a close contact, the individual(s) are allowed to continue to train and compete, as Tokyo 2020 will implem implement additional precautionary infection prevention measures,” the rule book further states.
The Kenyan players who were on the same flight as the Covid-19 positive athlete from another country are: Sheila Chanjira, Diana Awino, Vivian Akumu, Leah Wambui, Judith Auma and Stella Nelima.
Besides Team Manager Oyuayo, the team’s physiotherapist Samuel Kimotho is in the same group.
In a well-informed bid to curb mass quarantines in cases of close contact with Covid-19 positive cases, Sports, Culture and Heritage Cabinet Secretary, Hon. (Dr.) Ambassador Amina Mohamed directed that Team Kenya’s squad to the Olympic and Paralympic Games travels in small groups.
The Cabinet Secretary also ensured that all players and officials travelling to the Olympic and Paralympic Games get their two doses of Covid-19 prevention vaccines ahead of travel to Tokyo.
The team’s Chef de Mission Waithaka Kioni travelled to Tokyo well ahead of the team to ensure, among others, the smooth registration of Team Kenya. Kioni remains optimistic that the “Lionesses” players currently under procedural surveillance in Tokyo will be released soon to join the rest of the team in Kurume as they have tested negative for the virus multiple times.
-Alex Isaboke is reporting from Kurume City, Japan.