Kara Eaker's parents: 'Hope is gone' for her to compete in Tokyo after positive COVID-19 test

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KSHB 19 July, 2021 - 11:53am 5 views

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kara Eaker’s parents say “hope is gone” for their daughter to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

The Blue Springs gymnast won a spot as an alternate on Team USA at the U.S. Olympic Trials in St. Louis in June.

Her parents said they are sad for their daughter, who’s worked hard year-after-year to make it this far.

“Mostly disappointed, you know? I feel bad for her, because like I said, she’s trained most of her life for this,” her father, Mark Eaker, said. “There was hope up to this point, even as an alternate. Now that the results have come back, that hope is gone.”

Kara Eaker has been vaccinated and isn’t showing any symptoms, her parents said.

“We are just incredibly thankful that we got her vaccinated, because everyone is telling us — all the medical people are telling us — that’s to her benefit,” Katherine Eaker, Kara’s mother, said. “If there’s something I could tell everybody: Take this seriously.”

Kara Eaker’s parents say they are now looking forward to seeing their daughter when she gets out of isolation and comes home.

Leanne Wong, another local gymnast, also qualified as an Olympic alternate and is in Tokyo with Eaker.

Eaker could be released sooner if she continues not to show symptoms.

Fong said Wong is also asymptomatic, though she hasn’t had the COVID-19 vaccine.

The pair trained at a different facility than the other women competing for Team USA, including star athlete Simone Biles.

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Alternate on US women's gymnastics team tests positive for COVID-19

USA TODAY 20 July, 2021 - 06:10am

Kara Eaker, who said at the trials that she had been vaccinated, is the first known American athlete to test positive for COVID-19 while in Japan.

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The Tokyo Olympics has always been about COVID USA TODAY

TOKYO — An alternate on the U.S. women's gymnastics team has tested positive for COVID-19.

Kara Eaker, 18, tested positive, coach Al Fong confirmed in a text message to USA TODAY Sports on Monday night. Leanne Wong, who trains with Eaker at GAGE outside of Kansas City, is also quarantining after being deemed a close contact, Fong said. 

Fong told USA TODAY Sports that he and his wife and co-coach Armine do not have to isolate but "will stay with our athletes throughout." 

Earlier, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee each confirmed the positive test and specified that the gymnast is an alternate, but did not identify her by name. Eaker's identity was first reported by Justin Surrency, a reporter for WHO TV in Des Moines, Iowa. 

Eaker's positive test comes just four days before the start of the opening ceremony at the Tokyo Olympics. Eaker, who said at the Olympic Trials last month that she had been vaccinated, is the first known American athlete to test positive for COVID-19 while in Japan.

Coco Gauff, a U.S. tennis player, announced Sunday that she tested positive before traveling to Tokyo and would miss the Games.

Eaker's positive test was first announced by the local government of Inzai, a Japanese city in the prefecture where the women's gymnastics team recently held a training camp prior to the start of the Olympics. The city identified the infected individual only as a teenage American gymnast.

USA Gymnastics said she tested positive on Sunday.

USA Gymnastics said that strict protocols were in place while the team and alternates were training together, and Japanese COVID chaperones monitored the delegation's activities to ensure the measures were being followed. That included the four alternates training separately from the team and rooming with one another, as well as sitting on the opposite side of the dining room. 

The alternates – Kayla DiCello and Emma Malabuyo are the other two – did ride the same bus to training as the Olympic team, but they and their coaches sat at the back of the bus while the six team members and their coaches sat at the front. Masks were expected to be worn at all times except when eating, training or in their rooms.  

It was hoped those measures would keep the six Olympians from being contract traced out of the Games, and activity on social media Monday indicates those efforts might have paid off. As news was breaking of the positive test, the six gymnasts on the team – including the squad’s biggest star, Simone Biles – were posting photos of themselves visiting the Olympic Village.

"On Monday, the Olympic athletes moved to separate lodging accommodations and a separate training facility, as originally planned, and will continue their preparation for the Games," USAG said in a statement. "The entire delegation continues to be vigilant and will maintain strict protocols while they are in Tokyo."

As a further precaution, the Olympic athletes and their coaches will now have their own rooms at the hotel where they're staying. 

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Olympic organizers have implemented a series of COVID-19 protocols for athletes, officials and staff at the Olympic Village, to ensure that infected individuals do not enter the compound. It is unlikely that someone who might be a close contact would be permitted to enter the village.

As of Monday, 58 people associated with the Tokyo Olympics had tested positive for COVID-19 since July 1, according to Tokyo 2020. The group includes at least three athletes who are residing in the Olympic Village: Two players on the South African men's soccer team and a Czech beach volleyball player, according to news releases from their respective Olympic committees.

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US gymnast Kara Eaker and basketball player Katie Lou Samuelson test positive for Covid-19 ahead of Olympics

CNN International 20 July, 2021 - 06:10am

Updated 0150 GMT (0950 HKT) July 20, 2021

CNN's Ralph Ellis, Jill Martin and David Close contributed to this report.

TOKYO 2020: ‘COVID CASES EXPECTED’

NEWS9 live 20 July, 2021 - 06:10am

Japan projected to improve medals tally by 50% - Gracenote

Reuters 20 July, 2021 - 03:19am

TOKYO, July 20 (Reuters) - Host-nation Japan is projected to improve its medals haul at the Tokyo Olympics by 50% from the Rio de Janeiro Games, according to data analysts Gracenote.

Japan won a record-breaking 41 medals in Rio in 2016 and could increase that to 60, buoyed by gains from new and returning disciplines, including skateboarding, sport climbing and baseball, Gracenote said on Tuesday.

"Due to the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic, there is potential for the Tokyo Summer Games to be more unpredictable than normal," Gracenote said, releasing its final 'Virtual Medal Table' before the start of the Games on Friday.

The United States was picked to top the table but its expected haul was cut to 96, compared to the 121 won five years ago.

Asian powerhouse China's medal count was put at 66 but Gracenote said it might be a conservative projection due to a lack of data on the country's athletes.

"Nearly 80% of the Chinese athletes ranked in the Virtual Medal Table top-8s have no results since the pandemic began and the forecast total may be underrating the country's actual performance," it said.

Russian athletes, who will be competing in Tokyo as representatives of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) after the country was stripped of its flag and anthem for doping offences, were projected to come second in the table with 68 medals.

Britain was placed fifth with 52 medals, 15 fewer than it won in Rio.

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