Maltese athletes are slowly trickling into Tokyo just days before the city is set to host the highly-anticipated Olympic Games.
Badminton player Matthew Abela is the first Maltese athlete to have ventured into the Olympic Village and familiarise himself with the court he’ll play on as he battles it out in the competitive group stages.
Unfortunately, despite all precautionary measures including the banning of spectators, COVID-19 has penetrated the Olympic isolation bubble with 67 cases detected among those accredited for the Games.
One of those cases is Abela’s opponent from Suriname.
View this post on Instagram
“Unfortunately, in my group stages the player from Suriname got COVID-19 so he won’t be able to participate in the Olympic Games,” Abela said.
As a result of the disruption, Abela will play his first and only match on 25th July against a seeded Chinese player, Shi Yuqi.
It will be played at 12:40pm local time which is at 5:40am in Malta.
Win or lose, Abela will make history as the first local athlete to represent Malta in badminton at the Olympic Games.
In addition to Abela, five other local athletes will be representing Malta in Tokyo including swimmers Andrew Chetcuti and Sasha Gatt, track and field athlete Carla Scicluna, weightlifter Yazmin Zammit Stevens and indoor pistol shooter Eleanor Bezzina.
Concerns have been raised about the potential spread of COVID-19 after the bubble concept broke with a number of athletes and staff testing positive and in quarantine.
Outside the bubble, Tokyo recorded a near six-month high of new COVID-19 cases just three days before the Games are due to start.
Tag someone who needs to follow Matthew Abela at the Olympics