Positive COVID-19 tests dash U.S. Olympians’ dreams

Free Press wire reports | 7/22/2021, 6 p.m.
When the flame is lighted Fri- day, July 23, kicking off the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the U.S. team will ...

When the flame is lighted Fri- day, July 23, kicking off the Olympic Games in Tokyo, the U.S. team will be minus several competitors because of COVID-19.

U.S. tennis player Coco Gauff, 17, tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing her to pull out of the competition on Sunday.

And Kara Eaker, 18, an alternate on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, has tested positive for COVID-19 in an Olympic training camp in Japan. She and fellow gymnastics alternate Leanne Wong, 17, who had close contact with Eaker and who reportedly has not been vaccinated against COVID-19, have been placed in isolation.

Eaker, who was vaccinated against the novel coronavirus two months ago, is showing no symptoms, according to her family, who is monitoring the situation from their home in Grain Valley, Mo., a suburb of Kansas City.

Additionally, the U.S. men’s basketball team traveled to Tokyo on Monday without guard Zach LaVine, who entered coronavirus health and safety protocols.And Katie Lou Samuelson, a member of the U.S. 3x3 women’s basketball team, is missing the games following a positive test result.

Already, the U.S. men’s basketball team had reshuffled its roster last week after losing guard Bradley Beal to COVID-19 health and safety protocols and forward Kevin Love withdrew from participation.

Disappointment was expressed all around.

Gauff, who is ranked No. 25 by the WTA, shared the news of her COVID-19 test results in a tweet on Sunday.

“It has always been a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics, and I hope there will be many more chances for me to make this come true in the future,” she tweeted.

The U.S. women’s gymnastics team, comprised of world and Olympic champion Simone Biles, Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum, Sunisa Lee, MyKayla Skinner and Jade Carey, and two additional alternates, have all been moved to their own rooms—no room sharing—in a hotel in Japan since the positive test.

Biles, who is also the world champion, and the rest of the regular team have been vaccinated. Skinner, who made the team in the “plus-one spot” —meaning she can compete as an individual in Tokyo— following Olympic Trials did battle both COVID-19 and pneumonia last winter.

The games open Friday with a state of emergency in force in Tokyo, which means almost all venues will be without any fans as new COVID-19 cases rise in the capital. The women’s gymnastics team begins competing Sunday.