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Quarantined Olympic athletes stage sit-in, one calls locked windows 'inhuman'

In this Nov. 16, 2019, file photo, Candy Jacobs, of the Netherlands, competes in the Skate Street World Championship in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

TOKYO -- Olympic athletes quarantined after testing positive for COVID-19 are complaining about the living environment, meals and other conditions during isolation, with one Dutch skateboarder condemning it as "inhuman" for her not to be able to open her hotel room window. She and five other Dutch delegates staged a sit-in, demanding that they be allowed to open the windows for fresh air.

    "Not having any outside air is so inhuman," Candy Jacobs, 31, an Olympic skateboarder from the Netherlands, said in a video she posted on her Instagram account on July 28. "It's mentally super draining ... definitely more than a lot of humans can handle."

    By Aug. 1, a total of 264 athletes and other individuals connected to the Tokyo Games had tested positive for the coronavirus since the tallies began to be taken on July 1.

    Jacobs had been scheduled to compete in the women's street competition, but she was found to be infected with the coronavirus after arriving in Japan and was put in 10-day quarantine starting July 21.

    In all, six individuals from the Dutch delegation tested positive for the virus. After growing frustrated with their quarantine environment, the six staged a sit-in in the hotel lobby for a good seven to eight hours on July 27, demanding that they be allowed to open their room windows. Following the protest, they were reportedly allowed to open their windows -- albeit for 15 minutes under the supervision of authorities.

    In her Instagram post on July 28, Jacobs said, "Having that fresh breath of outside air was the saddest and best moment in my life."

    At a press conference on July 27, the Netherlands Olympic Committee expressed displeasure with the situation the six delegates faced, stating that their windows were locked and they were not allowed to open them.

    In response, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on July 29 that it will improve quarantine conditions.

    Meanwhile, on July 30, the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games told the Mainichi Shimbun via email, "We've been taking an appropriate response in order to maintain the conditions of those who tested positive for the coronavirus." In regard to the quarantine for the Dutch delegation, the organizing committee said, "The Netherlands Embassy in Japan and the Dutch Olympic Committee understand and appreciate it." When the Mainichi also queried about the reason why they locked the windows, the committee did not reply.

    According to Dutch delegation representatives, of the six isolated members, Jacobs and two others completed their quarantine and left Japan on July 30. On July 29, Jacobs posted on her Instagram, "I will need some time to bounce back from this. Physically and mentally."

    (Japanese original by Toshiya Nakamura, Foreign News Department)

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