Four athletes and two staffers from the Czech Olympic team have tested positive for COVID in Tokyo, and the team doctor is getting blamed in the media back home. On Thursday, the team announced that volleyball players Marketa Slukova-Nausch and Barbora Hermannova were barred from playing after their positive tests, reports CNN. "We cried, then we swore, then we cried again," says Slukova-Nausch, adding that it was a "nightmare" to get so close to competition before being disallowed. Previously, fellow beach volleyball player Ondeej Perusic and table tennis player Pavel Sirucek also tested positive, along with Slukova-Nausch's husband/coach Simon Nausch and team doctor Vlastimil Voracek, per AFP.
All were aboard the same charter flight to Tokyo, and the team doctor was singled out by Prime Minister Andrej Babis in comments to Czech media because he was not vaccinated before traveling, notes USA Today. "Everywhere we convince people to be vaccinated," he says. "And here the doctor of our delegation is not vaccinated." Voracek was quoted as saying in 2020 that gargling with mouthwash could prevent COVID. The Czech Olympic Committee has launched an investigation into whether safety protocols were ignored on last week's flight. (The director of the opening ceremony was fired over a 1998 joke.)