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U.S. women’s gymnastics alternate has COVID

TOKYO — An alternate on the United States women’s gymnastics team has tested positive for COVID-19 in an Olympic training camp in Japan.

Olympic champion Simone Biles was not affected, nor were any of the other favorites to win the team gold, but another alternate was placed into isolation because of contact tracing, USA Gymnastics said in a statement on Monday.

“One of the replacement athletes for the women’s artistic gymnastics team received a positive COVID test on Sunday, July 18. 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. “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 entire delegation continues to be vigilant and will maintain strict protocols while they are in Tokyo.”

The positive test was the latest in a growing list of daily reports of athletes and others testing positive at the pandemic-delayed Olympics. The unnamed gymnast was the first American to have tested positive after arriving in Japan.

“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 United States 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 four alternates — Leanne Wong, Kayla DiCello, Emma Malabuyo and Kara Eaker — traveled to Japan with the six-woman U.S. delegation of Biles, Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum, Sunisa Lee, MyKayla Skinner and Jade Carey.

The alternates are rooming and training together. While they have been traveling to training along with the actual team, they have been split into groups, with the team working on one apparatus while the alternates work on another.

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

Biles, who is also the world champion, and the rest of the regular team have been vaccinated.

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

The U.S. officials said the test took place when the team was training just outside Tokyo in Inzai City. Team members arrived last week for the camp to great fanfare at Narita airport.

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

The games open Friday with no fans in nearly all event venues, including at the opening ceremony, amid a state of emergency in Tokyo, and a slower than hoped for vaccine rollout. Japanese authorities said Monday 21.6% of the nation’s 126 million population is fully vaccinated.

The total of Games-related infections was officially 58 since July 1 before the two new cases (the U.S. gymnast and a Czech beach volleyball player) were announced. They should be added to the official tally on Tuesday.

These resulted from 22,000 people arriving in Japan since July 1 with 4,000 of those staying in the village, Ducrey said. About 11,000 athletes are scheduled to compete at the Tokyo Olympics.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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