Diving, volleyball test events open in Tokyo, leg of Olympic torch relay cancelled

Diving and volleyball on Saturday became the first Olympic test events in Tokyo to include international athletes since such competitions resumed last month, as both began under close supervision. A leg of the torch relay also was cancelled with COVID-19 cases surging in Japan.

Official scolded divers for not physically distancing before men's preliminary event

Saturday's Olympic volleyball test event at Ariake Arenain Tokyo involved a friendly between the Japanese and Chinese men's teams followed by the women. (Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images )

The Tokyo Olympics torch relay will take another detour this weekend when it enters the southern island of Okinawa.

A leg of the relay on Okinawa's resort island of Miyakojima set for Sunday has been cancelled altogether with coronavirus cases surging in Japan. Other legs on Okinawa will take place.

A 17-day state of emergency went into effect on April 25 in some areas in Japan, which has shut down department stores and bars in Tokyo and the country's second largest metropolis of Osaka.

"We don't want people from outside the island coming in. Human life is at stake," Hayako Shimizu, a teacher in Miyakojima, told the Associated Press.

The relay, which will involve 10,000 runners from every corner of Japan, started six weeks ago and has been mostly on schedule despite major rerouting in Osaka and in Matsuyama City in nearby Ehime prefecture.

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Organizers on Saturday said six people helping with traffic control on April 27 in the southern prefecture of Kagoshima had tested positive. Two were identified as men in their 20s and 30s. No other information was immediately available. This brings the total number of positive tests on the relay to eight, according to organizers.

The torch relay — like planning for the postponed Olympics slated to open on July 23 — is filled with uncertainty, constant changes, and questions about why it is taking place, and how it will take place.

Organizers hold signs to spectators that read: "Avoid crowding! Wear masks" during the Tokyo Olympic torch relay in Tobe, Ehime prefecture in southwestern Japan. The relay was detoured was once again on Saturday due to health and safety restrictions in the country. (Kyodo News via AP)

Diving and volleyball on Saturday became the first Olympic test events to include international athletes since such competitions resumed last month, as both began under close supervision in Tokyo.

The six-day diving World Cup, also a qualifier for this summer's Games, features more than 200 athletes from 50 countries including powerhouse China, but no fans.

Egyptian diving coach tests positive: report

"We're not allowed out of our rooms, where you have to stay … no outdoor air, no human interaction," said U.S. women's diver Sarah Bacon. "But we've been making it work."

It's unclear how many staff members accompanied the divers.

Contacted by AP, Tokyo organizers said they understand "that the athletes are entering Japan based on the guidelines provided by Japanese swimming federation and approved by FINA."

Germany's Patrick Hausding, left, and Timo Barthel compete during the men's synchronized 10-metre platform at a FINA diving World Cup in Tokyo on Saturday. The event doubled as an Olympic qualifier. (Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images)

Japanese news agency Kyodo, citing the Japanese Swimming Federation, said a coach of the Egyptian diving team tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Japan. It said the rest of the team tested negative.

The event was also punctuated in the morning by an earthquake that shook the cavernous Tokyo Aquatics Centre, a reminder that the Games are taking place in one of the world's most tectonically active regions.

Organizers say they would decide in June how many fans, if any, will be allowed for the Olympics. Fans from abroad have already been banned.

With around 15,000 Olympians and Paralympians expected to compete in July, organizers are grappling with how to hold the Games safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

4th wave of infections

Japanese authorities are determined to protect not only Games participants, but a local population that opinion surveys have shown is largely opposed to the Olympics due to the virus.

Japan is battling a fourth wave of infections, and the government has declared states of emergency in Tokyo and other areas.

The world governing body of swimming FINA listed one of divers in Tokyo as former Olympic bronze medallist Tom Daley of Britain. But other divers were from various countries including Mexico, Germany, Canada, Romania, Colombia, Japan, Malaysia, Ukraine, and Russia.

Saturday's volleyball at Ariake Arena involved a friendly between the Japanese and Chinese men's teams followed by the women.

Guo Cheng, captain of the Chinese men's team, said he appreciated the chance to compete and that organizers had done a good job making it happen.

"After we arrived in Japan our food and accommodations were well taken care of and I really felt secure playing in the match," he told reporters after his team lost in five sets to Japan.

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