Team SA football coach David Notoane fears a “Christian Eriksen incident” with his players forced into a long isolation.
Ahead of today’s 1pm Olympic football Group A opener against hosts Japan, the team is in disarray after two players and a video analyst tested positive for coronavirus following their arrival at the Olympic Village.
The 21 members of the team contingent were named as close contacts on Monday, forcing them to miss two training sessions as they isolated in their rooms.
And Notoane fears the lack of time to get used to hot and steamy Tokyo could put his players at risk.
He pointed to the example of Denmark midfielder Eriksen, who collapsed at the European Championship last month after suffering a cardiac arrest before being resuscitated.
Notoane told reporters: “You saw what happened in Euro 2020 when Denmark played.
“One can only hope and pray that with the players having been out of activity for a long time since we arrived here, we don't experience something like that.
“Maybe we haven’t acclimatised enough to these conditions as we would have liked to.”
Notoane says he had 17 players at his disposal, with Reeve Frosler and Nkosingiphile Ngcobo arriving late from the Caf Champions League final, and was thankful the game had not been called off, with final tests to take place six hours ahead of kickoff.
He adds: “The worst-case scenario could have been that we were suspended from the tournament, or we don’t have enough team members to participate in the tournament.”
Five people have tested positive in the Olympic Village so far, heightening fears that the influx of thousands of athletes, officials and media will add to a spike in cases in Japan.