COVID-19 isn't just a significant concern for Tokyo as it hosts the Olympics amid a national state of emergency. The ongoing pandemic is also impacting athletes, some of whose Olympic dreams were dashed by the coronavirus before they left their home countries.
The United States is no exception, with several athletes seeing their Olympic plans altered or outright canceled after being exposed to or contracting COVID-19. It's a list that includes some high-profile names and is likely to grow during the Tokyo Games.
Gymnast Kara Eaker 'doing well,' still isolating after testing positive
Eaker tested positive on Monday, her coach confirmed. The 18-year-old had previously said that she has been vaccinated. Eaker is one of two alternates on the team, along with Leanne Wong, who has been forced to quarantine. Wong, who has tested negative, is still in quarantine.
“I mean, we’re devastated for them,” USA Gymnastics vice president Annie Heffernon said, via The Associated Press. “Of course, it’s not anything we dreamed of happening or wanted to happen. And it was a rough 36 hours, I’m not going to lie. It was difficult for everybody. It was hard for me. It was hard for the athletes. It was hard for the staff.”
The entire team arrived in Japan last week, and is staying in a hotel instead of in the Olympic village.
The gymnastics women’s qualifications are set to start on Sunday. It’s unclear if either Eaker or Wong will be available for Team USA, should they be needed.
Report: Volleyball player Taylor Crabb tests positive after arriving in Japan
American beach volleyball player Taylor Crabb tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after his arrival in Japan, according to NBC.
He tested positive over the weekend after his arrival and is expected to return home to Hawaii, per the report, which broke Wednesday. Crabb was slated to start preliminary competition alongside Jake Gibb against an Italian team on Sunday. The Orange County Register reports that Tri Bourne will replace him.
His brother Trevor Crabb, who also plays beach volleyball, confirmed the diagnosis to NBC 4 in Los Angeles, describing the situation as "terrible." He believes that Taylor should be allowed to compete.
He's “fine and healthy and should be allowed to play in my personal opinion," Trevor told NBC 4.
U.S. Olympic athletes impacted by COVID-19 ahead of Games
— Team USA Basketball starter Bradley Beal was removed from the team's roster after being placed in health and safety protocols during the team's July training camp in Las Vegas. Head coach Gregg Popovich called the loss "devastating" and said that playing in the Olympics was a childhood dream of Beal's.
— Beal wasn't the only member of the U.S. men's basketball team impacted by the coronavirus. Forward Jerami Grant was placed in protocols alongside Beal. He was eventually cleared and traveled with Team USA to Tokyo on Monday.
On the day of the trip, USA Basketball announced that guard Zach LaVine was not joining his teammates on their flight after he too was placed in the program's health and safety protocols. He cleared protocols on Tuesday and will join his teammates in Tokyo.
—Coco Gauff was slated to become the youngest Olympic tennis competitor since Serena Williams in 2000. But the 17-year-old American announced on Sunday that she was withdrawing from the Games after contracting COVID-19.
— Gold medal hopeful Katie Lou Samuelson saw her Olympic dreams dashed before they began. USA Basketball announced on Monday that she was placed in protocols on Saturday and won't compete for the 3x3 team. She later confirmed that she had tested positive.
—As usual, the U.S. women's gymnastics team will be among the mostly closely watched at the Olympics. The team got a scare on Monday when the USOPC announced that an alternate on the team had tested positive. Her personal coach Al Fong later confirmed that Eaker was the gymnast who tested positive. There were no reports of the coronavirus being transmitted among her teammates.
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