Bay Area athletes, coaches holding out hope Olympic games will go on as planned

Tokyo is reporting its highest COVID-19 numbers since January as Opening Ceremonies for the Olympic Games are set to begin in two days. Families and coaches of Bay Area athletes competing in the Olympics are holding out hope the games won’t be canceled.

The Olympic Games are slated to officially start Friday as Tokyo reports more than 1,800 new cases in the last week.

"There is the anxiousness of what is there but at the same time I feel good," said Beena Nambiar of San Jose. "He’s taken the vaccine. We feel more protected."

Nambiar’s son is 18-year-old Nikhil Kumar of San Jose, who is part of USA’s Table Tennis team.

"At times we wonder about safety of the whole thing and whether it makes sense but we think about it from his point of view, what he’s gone through, and all that, it’s his first time," said Shashi Kumar of San Jose. 

Kumar texted photos from the Olympic Village including one with his team wearing masks. 

"I’ve been to a couple of Olympics and the rules are completely different," said Team USA Fencing Coach Greg Massialas. 

Massialas is staying at a Tokyo hotel. He said, they’re limited on where they can go, downloading an app to track their whereabouts.

USA Beach Volleyball Olympian Taylor Crabb is the latest athlete to test positive for Covid. Massialas isn’t worried.

"What I’ve done with our team is once we got here, they’ve pretty much exclusively stayed within their sport niche," said Massialas. 

Dr. Steve Isono from Stanford is an orthopedic surgeon for Team USA. He said the Olympic Committee has done its job isolating the Olympic Village from Tokyo residents.

"If you take 12,000 athletes, I think there are six athletes that have tested positive," said Dr. Isono. 

Oakland resident Barbra Higgins Arana competed in fencing in the 1984 Olympics for Panama. She said athletes are resilient.

"Risk is not something new to athletes," said Higgins Arana.

They all seem to think the games will likely continue the safest way possible and won’t be canceled.

"They would lose so much political face I think there’s no way it’s going to happen," said Massialas.

Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @AzenithKTVU or Facebook or