A US Olympic Gymnastics Alternate Tests Positive For COVID-19 Ahead of the Tokyo Games
An Olympic gymnastics alternate from the United States tested positive for COVID-19 on July 18, according to a statement sent to the Associated Press from USA Gymnastics (USAG). "After reviewing the implemented COVID protocols with members of the delegation, the local government determined that the affected replacement athlete and one other replacement athlete would be subject to additional quarantine restrictions," the USAG statement said. This is the first known American athlete to test positive while in Japan.
While USAG and the the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) did not release the name of the gymnast, alternate Kara Eaker's coach Al Fong confirmed that she's the alternate affected, as did her father. According to KSHB 41 News, Eaker had been vaccinated and has no symptoms. The other gymnast quarantining is fellow alternate Leanne Wong, also coached by Fong, who was declared a close contact, USA Today confirmed. She posted a message on her Instagram story reading, "prayers for a speedy recovery for one of our teammates." Wong and Eaker both hail from GAGE gymnastics in Missouri. Wong's parents said she has tested negative, KSHB 41 News reports.
The four alternates — Eaker, Wong, Kayla DiCello, and Emma Malabuyo — traveled to Japan with the four-person US Olympic gymnastics team of Simone Biles, Sunisa Lee, Jordan Chiles, and Grace McCallum as well as the two US individuals, Jade Carey and MyKayla Skinner. While training in Inzai, Japan, the alternates practiced in the same facility as, but in a different group than, the six athletes set to compete on July 25 in the qualification round.
Aside from the two alternates under quarantine, the members training to compete have been separated. "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 USAG statement reads. "The entire delegation continues to be vigilant and will maintain strict protocols while they are in Tokyo."
According to the Associated Press, the four members on the US Olympic gymnastics team and the two individuals have all been vaccinated. When POPSUGAR reached out to USAG to confirm Eaker's positive COVID test, the national governing body did not comment on that, nor did they comment on our request for confirmation that the US Olympic gymnasts are vaccinated. Instead, we received the same aforementioned statement.
However, a USAG spokesperson further corroborated that, "as originally planned," the Olympic athletes are now separated from the alternates, and the Olympic athletes and coaches have their own rooms in a new hotel outside of the Olympic Village. Biles's and Chiles's coach, Cecile Canqueteau-Landi, wrote on Twitter last night, "we feel like we can control the athletes and our safety better in a hotel setting!" POPSUGAR has also reached out to the USOPC and have not received a response.
Since July 1, 58 people associated with the Tokyo Games have tested positive for COVID-19, USA Today reports. This includes at least three athletes who are staying in the Olympic Village, two of which are on the men's soccer team from South Africa along with a Czech beach volleyball player. US tennis player Coco Gauff tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend and will not be traveling to Tokyo.