Olympians prepare for opening ceremony, two Dutch athletes test positive
42 competitors and staff members will represent the Netherlands at the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony on Friday afternoon (Dutch time). The team took a whack this week after two athletes tested positive for COVID-19, forcing them to withdraw from the games.
The Netherlands at the Tokyo Olympics
The Dutch team consists of 288 people - the Netherlands’ largest ever Olympic team - representing 25 out of the 33 sports taking place. Only 42 athletes and team members will fly the flag at Friday’s opening ceremony.
“We have not yet received the entire team, a considerable number of athletes are staying elsewhere and a large number are taking action very early,” explained retired swimmer and triple Olympic champion Pieter van den Hoogenband, Chef de Mission of the 2021 team. “Other countries are also participating with smaller delegations than usual. Athletes are careful, they do not want to run the risk of getting infected just before the Games.”
King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima have wished the Dutch team luck, but won’t be attending any of the events over the coming weeks. “Even though we can't be in Tokyo, we will follow your matches and have every confidence in a beautiful and successful Games. The Netherlands is looking forward to your performance,” they said.
Two Dutch athletes test positive for COVID-19
Over the past few weeks, a total of 106 Olympic team members have tested positive for coronavirus, three of which were members of the Dutch team; skateboarder Candy Jacobs, taekwondo star Reshmie Oogink, and a staff member on the rowing team.
The infections have left the Dutch team feeling cautious, but Van den Hoogenband remains calm. “We have it under control,” he said. “This is a scenario that we had already taken into account." Archer Gabriela Schloesser-Bayardo explained that the Chef de Mission asked all team members to be careful and keep their distance.
Olympians face strict coronavirus measures in the Olympic hotel, where they are staying before being transferred to the Olympic village a few days before their first event. Athletes are required to fill in a health check form every day and carry out a self-test every morning. Friday’s opening ceremony - and most sporting events - will take place with a very limited audience.
The Olympic Games opening ceremony starts at 1 pm on Friday, July 23 (Dutch time), with coverage starting at 12.35 pm on NOS.