Alternative US women’s gymnastics team tests positive for COVID days before Olympics

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A woman walks past the Olympic rings in Tokyo, Wednesday, March 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

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TOKYO (NEXSTAR) — A substitute for the United States women’s gymnastics team has tested positive for COVID-19 during a training camp in Japan, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee announced Monday.

The USOPC did not say whether Olympic champion Simone Biles or one of the other favorites to win the team gold medal was in isolation due to contact tracing. The positive test was the latest in a growing series of daily reports from athletes and others testing positive at the Olympics delayed by the pandemic.

The alternate who tested positive for COVID-19 in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics has been identified as Kara Eaker, 18, gymnastics coach Al Fong, of the GAGE ​​Center in Missouri, confirmed to WDAF.

The four alternates – Eaker, Leanne Wong, Kayla DiCello and Emma Malabuyo – traveled to Japan with the six-woman US delegation consisting of Biles, Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum, Sunisa Lee, MyKayla Skinner and Jade Carey.

Eaker finished seventh overall in the United States Gymnastics Trials in June. She was joined by teammate GAGE ​​Wong as the team’s substitutes.

Wong posted on his Instagram story, “Prayers for a speedy recovery for one of our teammates.”

Alternates lodge and train with alternates. As they headed to practice with the actual squad, they were split into groups, with the squad working on one fixture while the alternates worked on another.

“The health and safety of our athletes, coaches and staff is our top priority. We can confirm that an alternate for the women’s artistic gymnastics team has tested positive for COVID-19,” the USOPC statement read. “In accordance with local rules and protocols, the athlete has been moved to a quarantined hotel. Out of respect for the privacy of the individual, we cannot provide further information at this time.

The U.S. women’s team over the weekend processed what USA Gymnastics called a “false positive” for an unidentified athlete, but subsequent test results for the athlete were negative, according to the organization.

Biles, the reigning world champion, and the rest of the regular squad have been vaccinated.

The Games are set to open on Friday with a state of emergency in effect in Tokyo, meaning almost all venues will be without fans with new cases on the rise in the capital. The women’s gymnastics team begins competition on Sunday.

US officials said the test took place while the team was training just outside Tokyo in the town of Inzai. The team members arrived last week for the camp to great fanfare at Narita Airport.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government reported 727 new cases in the capital on Monday. It is the 30th day in a row that cases were higher than the previous week. Cases last Monday were 502.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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