US Olympic gymnast tests positive for COVID days before Tokyo games start

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New York Post 19 July, 2021 - 08:20am 10 views

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By Evan Orris

July 19, 2021 | 9:20am | Updated July 19, 2021 | 10:40am

Things are starting to get messy for the US gymnastics team ahead of their quest for Olympic gold.

On Monday, an alternate for the team tested positive for COVID-19, according to American Olympic officials. The gymnast’s name has not been announced, but she is between the ages of 10 and 19.

“The health and safety of our athletes, coaches and staff is our top priority. We can confirm that an alternate on the women’s artistic gymnastics team tested positive for COVID-19,” the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee said in a statement. “In alignment with local rules and protocols, the athlete has been transferred to a hotel to quarantine. Out of respect for the individual’s privacy, we cannot provide more information at this time.”

The gymnast tested positive while training in Narita, 35 miles from Tokyo. She stayed in their travel accommodations and practiced in venues, but did not spend time in the city. However, she still contracted the virus.

The unknown gymnast is the first known COVID-19 case among Olympians from the United States. Now she will quarantine in her hotel room along with one teammate, who was deemed a “close contact.” Kayla DiCello, Kara Eaker, Emma Malabuyo and Leanne Wong are the four alternates for the team.

The US has had quite a few Olympians withdraw from the event due to COVID already. Coco Gauff, the No. 25 women’s tennis player in the world, and basketball star Bradley Beal have been sent home already due to positive tests. Currently, there have been 58 COVID-19 cases linked to the Olympic Games.

Read full article at New York Post

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Updated 1521 GMT (2321 HKT) July 19, 2021

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Several of the latest COVID-related losses will be felt sorely by Team USA. 

On Monday, the Japanese city hosting the U.S. gymnastics team for pre-Games training said a female gymnast from the team had tested positive. The name of the athlete, who is in her teens, has been withheld by the city of Inzai, in Chiba Prefecture, where she had been training.

In a statement released on Monday, USA Gymnastics confirmed that a replacement athlete for the women's artistic gymnastics team had tested positive and that "the local government determined that the affected replacement athlete and one other replacement athlete would be subject to additional quarantine restrictions."

"Accordingly, 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," the team said.  

While several athletes from overseas have tested positive for the virus since arriving in Japan, the gymnast was the first known COVID-19 case among Olympians from the United States. Another U.S. gymnast was isolating in her hotel room after health authorities determined that they had been in close contact with the young woman who tested positive.

The COVID-positive American gymnast was first suspected of being infected with the virus on Sunday, and another test at a hospital early on Monday confirmed the result, according to Inzai officials. The U.S. team of 10 athletes was being screened for the virus daily since their arrival in Japan on Thursday. They had only left their hotel for training using a designated bus, the city said.

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Tennis phenom Coco Gauff broke the news on Sunday that she, too, had tested positive and would not be participating in the Games. Gauff revealed her test just a couple days after USA Basketball lost point guard Bradley Beal. He was placed under COVID health and safety protocols due to a possible close contact near the end of last week.

All will be big losses for Team USA, but they're just more curveballs in what has already been an incredibly shaky start to this year's Olympics.

As more Olympic teams descended on the Japanese capital over the weekend, two South African soccer players tested positive for the virus, becoming the first athletes with confirmed infections inside the Olympic village.

The South African Football Association said the whole team was put under quarantine — with their first match just three days away. They will only be allowed to compete if they all test negative six hours before the match.

Japan's Kyodo TV reported on Monday that an unnamed member of the U.S. Gymnastics team had tested positive for COVID-19 in Japan, in addition to a beach volleyball player from the Czech team.  

While Olympics officials said there was "zero" chance of the Games triggering a super-spreader event, most Japanese haven't bought that line. Two separate news polls over the weekend showed that an overwhelming majority of residents remained skeptical that the Games could be held safely.

Outside the village, the sprawling city of almost 14 million faces its own surge. Tokyo saw five consecutive days with more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases until they finally dipped again on Monday. The weekly average of new cases jumped more than 45% last week.

A major sponsor, Toyota, has pulled its Tokyo Olympics advertising and said its president won't attend the opening ceremony on Friday — a sign of the stigma associated with these trouble-plagued Games.

Local opposition to the Games isn't the only challenge this week. Officials also issued the first heatstroke alert for the city so far this year, encouraging athletes to drink more water to account for an Olympics that could, on top of everything else, end up being the hottest Games in decades.

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